Kerala lawmaker faces flak over boat race visuals

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 2 (IANS) Popular Malayalam film actress Swetha Menon Saturday said let "visuals speak" after TV channels showed a lawmaker trying to cosy up to her during a boat race. The parliamentarian has denied the charge.

Menon stopped short of naming the politician.

"I have not denied the incident. Your visuals in the news itself clearly show what happened and I am sure it has happened.

"Let the visuals speak...I could have reacted instantly but since I am not interested in creating news, I did not," said Menon while answering a reporter's question whether the politician was Kollam Lok Sabha member and Congress leader Peethamabara Kurup.

Kurup told reporters that he has been in public life for several decades. "I am not such a character and very soon I will come out with all the pictures," said Kurup, a first time Lok Sabha member.

The alleged incident took place Friday evening while Menon was one of the guests of honour at a boat race in Kollam.

TV visuals show Kurup on more than one occasion getting close to the actress.

Women activists cutting across political affiliations condemned the incident and demanded action against the lawmaker.

Former CPI-M legislator and Democratic Mahila Association state secretary K.K. Shylaja said that this is a shame.

"The visuals speak the truth and authorities should start initiating action against him," said Shylaja.

CPI-M central committee member P.K.Sreemathi described it as a blot on Kerala and "the need of the hour is state Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan should immediately direct police for action to be taken".

Lissy Jose, state womens' commission member, said her personal opinion is that a case should be registered against the person who did this.

Menon has not yet made any official complaint.

Congress leader Bindu Krishna said that Kurup is known to be a very caring person and "what I am told is that there are more pictures and once that also comes out, it would be clear what has happened".

"A detailed probe will reveal everything and at the same time we are not discounting Menon's statements," said Krishna.

Actors body AMMA is expected to discuss this issue shortly and her future course of action would depend on the outcome of the meeting.

Leader of opposition V.S.Achuthanandan said what happened to Menon is most shameful.

"We have the recent law that has been passed in the parliament and it states that the victim's response is only needed for action to be taken. She is reported to have told the Kollam district collector after the incident happened and so far no action has be taken. All are waiting to see what the government under Oommen Chandy is going to do," Achuthanandan told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference here Saturday.

However Chandy kept mum when reporters asked him about the incident.

Kollam district collector B. Mohan said that he has not received any complaint.

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