These are words that stink: Manju Warrier on MM Mani's statement

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Electricity minister was criticising the 2015 strike by women plantation workers in Munnar demanding a rise in their wages and better living conditions.

As pressure mounted on him, the power minister said he has never insulted women and offered to quit if the party wanted.

Mani's remarks allegedly questioning the character of women activists, who had previous year held a series of protests against plantation companies, have invited widespread criticism from many quarters including his own party leaders.

The student and youth wings of the Congress party also protested in front of the Assembly demanding Mani's ouster, but they were prevented from reaching the assembly by the police.

While addressing a public meeting Mani cast aspersions on the character of women activists who he reportedly claimed drank alcohol and were involved in other activities. The BJP's Kerala unit observed a black day in Idukki district and demanded Mani's resignation. "Mani is a shame for literate Keralaites".

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This is not the first time Mani is courting controversy. But he has been forced on Kerala as a Minister by CPIM leadership and given license to make derogatory remarks against women and respected bureaucrats. "He should be charged for sexual abuse under Indian Penal code", Kummanam Rajashekharan, state BJP president told India Today. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said they would not cooperate with the session until the resignation of Mani.

Reacting to the opposition charges, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Mani's statement was misconstrued and blown out of proportion by the media and opposition parties.

Meanwhile, the agitating women plantation workers demanded he come to them to apologise and that he must resign as he has no moral right to continue in his post.

When he was made a minister, there were reports that many leaders, including party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, had serious reservations. I have women in the home and at my workplace. The issue is expected to be raised in the Legislative Assembly that goes to session on April 25.