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RMP leader's remark against Shailja, Manju Warrier triggers political row in Kerala

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Kozhikode (Kerala), May 12 (PTI) A leader of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP), a key constituent in the opposition Congress-led UDF, has courted controversy for making an alleged sexist remark against senior CPI (M) leader K K Shailaja and Malayalam film actress Maju Warrier.

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RMP leader K S Hariharan made the objectionable remark on Saturday night while speaking at a meeting in Vadakara here which was inaugurated by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan.

The event was organised in response to the ruling LDF's charges that UDF workers had made a morphed video of Shailaja who was a candidate in Vadakara in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.

As the remark sparked a huge political storm, his own party high command and the UDF openly criticised him and said Hariharan should not have made such objectionable comments against any woman.

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Later, Hariharan came out with a Facebook post saying friends and journalists brought to his notice that he had made an "inappropriate" remark during the speech.

The senior leader, through the post, also expressed regret for his comment.

Later, he clarified that it was not done intentionally, but a "natural slip of a tongue".

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However, the controversy has refused to die down as people from various walks of life including netizens voiced out against him.

While the CPI (M) leadership here indicated that the they would take legal action against the RMP leader, the Democratic Federation of India (DYFI), the party's youth wing, demanded stringent action against him.

In a Facebook post on Saturday night, the DYFI alleged that the RMP leader's speech underlies the "heinous anti-woman campaign" conducted by the UDF in Vadakara during the LS polls.

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Describing the controversial speech as a "challenge to cultural Kerala", the Left outfit also sought RMP leader and MLA K K Rema's reaction to the objectionable comment.

Rema, who strongly advocated the women's cause on various issues, said on Sunday that the party won't support such remarks made by anyone.

"It was a remark made by an individual and the entire party could not be blamed for that," she said adding that such statements were a reflection of the degradation that lies in the minds of people.

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LoP V D Satheesan also said that the UDF does not endorse Hariharan's controversial statement.

Terming the RMP leader's anti-woman remark as 'completely wrong', he said political leaders should always set an example for others while speaking during a public programme.

Satheesan said he had informed Hariharan about his dissent soon after the programme and demanded that he withdraw it.

He said the UDF welcomed the stand taken by Hariharan who realised his mistake and expressed his deep regret over making such a remark.

The Congress leader also urged political leaders and activists to exercise extreme caution while levelling political accusations. PTI LGK ROH

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