Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs and senior Congress leader Vayalar Ravi sparked a furore with his sexist remarks against a woman journalist when he was asked about the Congress stance on Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, who is facing rape charge.
He told a young woman journalist: “ Why are you pestering me on Kurien issue? Have you anything personal against him? Did he do anything to you? The last question in Malayalam and in a lewd tone had brought the girl almost to tears.
Ravi was in his home town of Alappuzha to review his Local Area Development fund spending. The trainee journalist, who joined the recently launched channel a few months back, went to the government guest house where the meeting was held to take a few bytes on Congress stance on Kurein.
Later, the channel aired the episode stirring a hornet’s nest. Women journalists, activists and general public are up in arms against Ravi’s rude behaviour.
They have demanded a public apology from Ravi.
Having realised that the issue was snowballing into a big controversy, Ravi tendered his apology to the journalist and the TV channel. Though the incident has become a big issue, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is trying to play it down.
When Opposition leader V S Achuthanadan raised the issue in Assembly, Chandy said that Ravi had already apologised and there was no point in discussing it again. In his apology, Ravi said: “I am sorry for the comment. I have already conveyed my regret for the remark to the TV channel.”
“I have been misunderstood. I always joke with journalists. There is nothing deliberate. Everyone took it as a joke,” he claimed. Meanwhile, the BJP slammed Ravi for making such remarks and demanded a public apology from him.
“We condemn the behaviour of Vayalar Ravi towards a lady journalist. It is extremely unfortunate that he has misused his authority and position to intimidate a journalist who was only asking a question which fell within the ambit of her professional responsibility,” BJP Mahila Morcha chief Smriti Irani said.