Kerala Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran ringed in unsought controversy on Sunday (November 1) after making a sudden remark which came across as demeaning rape survivors. He later clarified his intention behind making the comment, but not before he faced some heat online for it.
On this day, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president was addressing an UDF-led protest in Thiruvananthapuram against the alleged solar scam and 'blackmail' politics. There, he said, "If raped, a woman with self-respect either dies or will not let that happen again."
The context of his remark lies in the 2013 Kerala solar panel scam, in which at least four Kerala Cabinet ministers, three MLAs and hordes of government officials in the then Congress-led UDF government had been roped in. The issue is widely considered to be one the prime electoral planks on which the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) came to power.
One of the prime accused in the case was Saritha Nair, who allegedly used her contacts in the administration and influence of Congress leaders to cheat the public.
Today, the KPCC chief said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is trying to use "blackmail politics" by bringing in people like Saritha Nair, in an attempt to tarnish Congress' image.
"When you are going to sink, as the last attempt you are trying to bring in an adulteress and say these things," KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran was quoted as saying in a report.
Subsequently, the Congress leader faced substantial heat online for his remarks demeaning the rape survivors and, in turn, participating in the regressive rape rhetoric haunting Indian society.
"Another reason why these monsters must be defeated," proclaimed a user online after the video carrying the Kerala Congress chief's comments went viral.
Under fire for his comments, the Congress leader later clarified his remark as not being "anti-women".
"In my statement, I was trying to say that this government is engulfed by corruption and is looking at ways to get out of this," Mullappally Ramachandran was quoted as saying.
He said that he deeply regrets the fact that his statement "had been interpreted as any specific person".