Kerala Oppn leader Ramesh Chennithala apologises for controversial rape remark

Ramesh Chennithala
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala
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A day after a controversy erupted over a 'rape remark' made by Ramesh Chennithala, Kerala Opposition leader tendered an unconditional apology on Wednesday.

"The remark I made while answering questions during a press meet yesterday was absolutely unintentional. I understood it as I heard it again. Throughout my career, I worked, based on a political conviction that such a remark should not come from me. I withdraw the remark and express unconditional apology," the leader of the opposition in Kerala assembly wrote on Facebook.

He reiterated the charge that the government was responsible for the recent rape incidents in Aranmula and Thiruvananthapuram.

"The state government is responsible for the rape of a COVID-19 patient inside an ambulance in Aranmula and the rape of another woman by a health inspector in Thiruvananthapuram. The health department should take up the responsibility for these two incidents that defamed Kerala in front of the world," he said.

Chennithala's statement came during a press conference after the Congress-led United Democratic Front meeting when a scribe asked him about the junior health inspector who was arrested on Monday on charges of raping a woman who sought a COVID-19 certificate.

Chennithala got irked by the journalist's question on "how can women go out freely if Congressmen commit rape like this."

The insinuation was that the accused were Congress men.

"Is it written somewhere that only DYFI (CPM's youth wing) workers can sexually abuse women? It's a lie that the accused belongs to the Congress," Chennithala said, with the intention of denying that the accused belonged to a service organisation affiliated to the Congress.

The statement drew a flurry of criticism with state Health Minister K K Shailaja and the State Women's Commission urging Chennithala to withdraw his remarks and demanded an apology from him. However, Chennithala's stand was that his remark was misunderstood.

Social media was also filled with posts seeking apology from Chennithala for the insensitive remark. The incident also triggered a discourse on the insensitivity of rape jokes.

Chennithala's apology has also been received well by many social media users, who termed it as a good gesture.

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