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Kerala Cong Chief Calls State Health Minister 'Covid Queen', Slammed for Sexism

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran | Image credit: File photo

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran | Image credit: File photo

Shailaja Teacher has won praise from across the country for her handling of both the Nipah outbreaks as well as the COVID-19 outbreak.

Buzz Staff
  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 19, 2020, 10:29 PM IST
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Even as all states in India continue to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians in Kerala have kicked up a controversy by referring to the state Health Minister KK Shailaja as "Covid Queen" (Covid Rani) and "Nipah Princess" (Nipah Rajkumari).

The sexist comments were made by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran who was speaking at a one-day fast held by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala to protest against the Kerala government.

Led by Mullappally, the protesters demanded testing of expatriates from abroad before they board a flight back to India. Taking a dig at the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) MLA from Kuthuparamba, Mullapally said, "During the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode, though many people claimed credit for the efforts, it was actually a set of committed doctors, colleague of Dr Muneer (Dy leader of Opposition), nurses and committed para medical staffers who lead the fight against Nipah. Like that our health minister camped there as a guest artist."

He added, "Now the government is taking claim and she trying to earn the name 'Covid Rani', like what she did there to earn the name 'Nipah Princess'"


The Congress leader was referring to the 2018 Nipah outbreak in Kerala. Despite the loss of lives, Kerala managed to contain the outbreak and limit casualties to zero the next time it occurred in 2019.


 

Shailaja, known popularly as Shailaja Teacher, has won praise from across the country for her handling of both the Nipah outbreaks as well as the COVID-19 outbreak.


Finance minister Thomas Issac took to Twitter to put out a word against the statement on his cabinet colleague.






Issac tweeted,"KPCC president mocks Kerala health minister Shylaja teacher as Nipha Princess aspiring to be COVID Queen. Can a political leader stoop this low? These slimes are not going to undermine all-around appreciation for the manner Shylaja and Kerala government have handled pandemic."



CPIM PB member Brinda karat condemned the statement and said that the least he could do is issue a public apology for the sexist statement.




 Brinda Karat issued a video statement condemning the remark.




"I strongly condemn the sexist, derogatory and petty statement Made by KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran . At a time when the entire world has appreciated the work done by comrade kk shylaja as the health minister of kerala instead of bejng proud that there is a lady minsiter from his own state such a remark was made. "

She added that it was a shame and the least he can do is a public apology.



Kerala, the state which reported first positive case of coronavirus in India on January 30, has been putting all efforts since then in innovating and building better healthcare facilities to contain the further spread of COVID-19.

Reacting to Mullappally's snide comments, many on Twitter slammed the Congress leader for "misogyny" and "sexism".

A Twitter user who goes by the name "Advdai" wrote, "Covid Rani is a mockery of a health minister who has studied, gotten a job, worked for a political party and won democratically".

READ: Contact Tracing, Efficient Planning & Training: Kerala Health Minister on How State Took Coronavirus Head-on

Yet another Twitter user Charmy Harikrishnan lashed out at Mullappally's "denigration" of the "high-performing" Health Minister. "From what squalid depths of male ego and misogyny and political pettiness has he dredged up these gendered terms against her?" she wrote.

Several others slammed the Congress leader's tone-deaf jibes.




As the pandemic spread through India, Kerala made global headlines for its handling of the virus. Kerala also got a firm grip on handling such health crises when two waves of the Nipah virus (spread by the fruit bat) hit the state in 2018.

READ: Flattening the Corona Curve: Here's How Kerala's Healthcare System Outscores Others

Since Pinarayi Vijayan became chief minister in 2016, the corona pandemic is the fifth major public calamity to hit the state: two waves of Nipah, floods in 2018 and 2019 which drowned the state.

As of now, there are 2,794 cases of COVID-19 in Kerala.

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