Kerala Power Minister MM Mani, who used to get away with his controversial statements in the past, found himself in the middle of a minefield on Sunday after his derogatory speech against women tea garden workers’ stir was aired by television channels. The Minister’s comments triggered instant protests and was decried by CPM leaders and his cabinet colleagues.  The clamour for minister’s resignation is gaining momentum.
 

Related: MM Mani does it again: Outrage over Minister's insult of Munnar women's stir
 

“Pombilai Orumai was an intervention by a collective of women workers. It was not right to make insulting comments on the collective,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. “I’ll talk to him first,” CM responded when asked whether he would take action against the minister.


CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the party state secretariat would discuss the matter. "If Mani made a statement as reported by media, the party cannot accept it," he said. Ministers should keep the dignity of their position when they make statements, the CPM leader added in response to a question on MM Mani's recent controversial speeches. 
 

Related: Minister Mani's statement lands Pinarayi Vijayan govt. in soup
 

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has called for a hartal in Idukkki in protest of the minister.

 Ministers AK Balan, J Mercykkuttiyamma and CPM leaders PK Sreemathi and TN Seema also criticized MM Mani over his controversial statement as the Congress demanded the Chief Minister to immediately remove the minister.

 

After he found himself in the line of fire, Mani stated that his statement was distorted and misinterpreted. There was conspiracy behind the controversy said.


Mani has no right to remain in power, said former KPCC president VM Sudheeran. Hundreds of Congress workers marched to Munnar town in the afternoon demanding Mani’s resignation. The protest of Pombilai Orumai is continuing in the town.  Yuvamorcha activists took out a protest march to the state secretariat.

 

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala demanded that the minister be kicked out of the cabinet with immediate effect. The government should take criminal case against Mani for insulting woman hood, he added. Mahila Congress also demanded a criminal case against the minster.

 

Addressing a public meeting organized at Irupathekkar in Idukki, Minister Mani attacked Pombilai Orumai, the women's collective that led a historic tea garden workers’ stir two years back.
 

"They were drinking and doing all kinds of dirty things... Everything happened inside the forest nearby," Mani said referring to the Pombilai Orumai stir, in a derogatory tone. He also made lewd gestures. "A police DySP was also with them. We know everything about it," he added.

 

The minister's comments invited the wrath of the women who took part in the historic Munnar struggle and they instantly took to the streets in protest in the tea garden town of Idukki. "How dare he call us prostitutes? Maniye Vidamatten (We’ll not let you go). We fought for decent wages and bonus. Chief Minister should throw him out of the cabinet," Gomathi, one of the leaders of Pombilai Orumai said. “We want Mani to come here and apologize,” she added.

 

Mani had publicly insulted Idukki Collector and sub collector the other day.  "The Sub-collector (Sriram Venkitaraman) should be sent to Oolampara (a mental hospital in Thiruvananthapuram)," MM Mani said at a public function in Idukki on Saturday. The minister also compared the removal of cross from the land encroached by a prayer group at Pappathichola in Idukki to the demolition of Babri Masjid. "RSS is behind the sub collector," he said.