CPI(M) takes on Cong. over caste slur against CM

Vijayaraghavan asks Oppn. party to disown Sudhakaran’s remarks and apologise

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] on Thursday sought to put the Congress in the dock over K. Sudhakaran’s “disparaging remarks” about Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s roots in the toddy tapping community.

CPI(M) acting State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan said Mr. Sudhakaran’s “caste slur” was an affront to ordinary people hailing from socially marginalised and historically oppressed sections.

Mr. Sudhakaran had attempted to shame toddy tappers as a socially lower class unsuited for high political office. The Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) had echoed a similar sentiment about Mr. Vijayan.

Like the BJP, the Congress has resurrected the Manusmriti. The ancient text sanctioned caste segregation, untouchability and segregation of “polluted” castes, Mr. Vijayaraghavan said.

Renaissance leaders had thrown the code into the dustbin of history. They had mobilised the masses to fight caste oppression. Kerala had defeated casteism through historical struggles and mass movements, he added.

DYFI agitation

The Congress should disown Mr. Sudhakaran’s statement and apologise. The DYFI would launch a Statewide agitation against the Congress’s caste shaming of working class leaders, Mr. Vijayaraghavan said.

Mr. Sudhakaran said he had used the imagery to point out the dichotomy between Mr. Vijayan’s image as a Communist hailing from a proletarian family and his inexcusable fiscal profligacy as Chief Minister.

Mr. Vijayan had splurged on a helicopter at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic had hollowed the State’s finances. He had said Mr. Vijayan was the first Chief Minister from a toddy tapper family to hire a helicopter for travel.

“Toddy tapping is a vocation like any other. It is comparable to rolling beedis or farm labour. Its not a defamatory usage,” he said.

Mr. Sudhakaran said had consulted several language experts. They could not point out anything offensive in his speech. He said he had done nothing to feel contrite.

Chennithala’s stand

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said Mr. Sudhakaran should avoid such comments. Congress MLA Shanimol Usman also decried the statement.

SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan said Mr. Sudhakaran had overlooked Mr. Vijayan’s long innings in politics. Instead, he had used the knowledge of Mr. Vijayan’s caste and ancestry to deem him unfit for the Chief Minister’s office.

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