Kottayam | Supporters of Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani and his known detractor in Kerala Congress P C George today scuffled on stage in a nearby panchayat after he criticised Mani on the issue of falling prices of rubber. Dramatic scenes were witnessed at the venue of Kudumbashree anniversary celebrations and the launch of Jalanidhi at Thitanadu Panchayat after the gram Panchayat President, a Mani loyalist, prevented George from making political comments in his presidential address.
An agitated George allegedly smashed the mike and alleged that the president’s brother and some others tried to manhandle him in the presence of police. Besides, Mani and George, Kerala Water Resources Minister P J Joseph and Anto Antony MP were present on the stage. The ministers left the venue soon after the incident, which occurred in presence of police and hundreds of villagers who were assembled there to attend the function.
Supporters of George and Mani also allegedly engaged in a minor clash later following the incidents on the stage. George alleged that he was not allowed to continue his speech as he said that farmers, particularly rubber growers in the state, are on the verge of committing suicide due to the ‘anti-farmer’ policies adopted by the finance minister and the state government, in which he is a key player.
As a representative of the people, I thought it is my duty to raise the people’s concerns. But unfortunately I was not allowed to raise the matter before the ministers. I don’t understand why the Panchayat president got agitated while raising the people’s concerns, George said. Panchayat President Joseph George said he intervened after George used the occasion to score political points in the function.
George did not say anything on the issues being faced by farmers. Instead, he tried to humiliate Mani, P J Joseph and District Panchayat President Nirmala Jimmy in his presidential address, the Panchayat president alleged.
This was the first time Mani and George have come together on stage after their public spat over the bar bribery scam in which the finance minister faced a vigilance probe on bribery charges. Sharp public criticism against Mani had cost George dearly as he had to leave the post of Government chief whip allocated for the Kerala Congress.
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