The CPM State leadership has climbed down, succumbing to pressures in the sexual harassment charge against legislator from Shoranur PK Sasi as action appears imminent.
Sasi today announced cancellation of his official programmes citing 'health grounds’, though party sources admit that it is under orders from the leadership.
Electricity Minister AK Balan who is in the two-member panel entrusted by the state committee to probe the matter said today that strict action would be taken on the basis of the complaint given by the DYFI leader. Surprisingly, on September 4 he denied that the party had received any charge. This was contrary to the statement brought out by the party on Friday that the complaint was received on August 14 and it was decided by the month end that Balan and PK Sreemathy, MP, would probe the matter.
The DYFI leader from Palakkad had first raised the matter of her being sexually assaulted by the MLA through a letter to Kodiyeri early in August. Since there was no response, she was forced to write to politburo member Brinda Karat. Incidentally, Brinda, who is said to have failed to respond to the complainant, today said it was the party policy to stand with the victim in such cases and the State leadership would take appropriate action.
When the victim faced to get response from Brinda, she emailed party general secretary Sitaram Yechuri with clippings of the lewd talk of the MLA. Yechuri immediately said publicly admitted that the state leadership had been asked to probe the matter. This embarrassed both the state leadership and a section in the politburo, forcing the latter to come out with the statement that the state leadership had taken up the matter on its own.
This explains why the party statement came out with the statement that the probe was ordered in August itself and Balan initially claiming innocence of knowledge of such a report. While the Central Women's Commission initially said it would take up the matter based on media reports, it backtracked the next day saying it needed a formal complaint from the victim. This was also the stand of the State commission. There was demand from outside the party that the complaint should be handed over to the police which the party leadership does not favour.
Things took a turn for the party when veteran VS Achuthanandan wrote to Yechuri asking him to involve the the Central leadership as the gravity of the charge would sully the party image.
The leadership was quite aware that police action in the recent case relating to four Christian priests sexually abusing a housewife was at the instance of a statement by Achuthanandan in the Assembly. A complaint had been made with the Church which claimed that there was no proof in the matter and the housewife could not be traced. The matter was raised by Achuthanandan in the Assembly and orders were issued to the DGP to look into the matter. Action was quick, the 'untraceable’ woman was traced and the four priests were arrested. Minister EP Jayarajan, officiating for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is away in the US for treatment, had said that the Government had nothing to do in the matter as it was a complaint made to the party.
Balan and several other party leaders like Minister MM Mani were on record saying the party was looking into the matter and the victim was free to get in touch with the police. This was sufficient indication that the party will not be able to hush up the matter and action against Sasi was imminent.