No to Magsaysay Award for KK Shailaja: Sitaram Yechury defends party stand 

Left leaders who spoke on the issue have claimed that Magsaysay was a staunch anti-Communist who oversaw the defeat of Communists in the Philippines in the 1950s.

Published: 04th September 2022 05:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2022 07:10 PM   |  A+A-

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greeting party workers at a public meeting.

By Online Desk

NEW DELHI: On the issue of CPI (M) scuttling the chance of former Kerala health minister KK Shailaja winning the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, party general secretary Sitaram Yechury defended their decision saying that the award is in the name of Ramon Magsaysay who has a history of alleged brutal oppression of Communists in the Philippines.

Yechuri, who met reporters in New Delhi, denied the good work done by Shailaja in tackling Covid-19 by stating, "The award was being given for the manner in which the public health issues have been managed in Kerala. This is a collective effort of the LDF government and the Health Department in Kerala."

He said the Magsaysay Award has not been given to any active politician so far and the Central Committee is the highest decision-making body of the party.

"So, for all these factors together, she politely refused it saying that she will be the first politician to get it," Yechury said.

Meanwhile, Shailaja said in Thiruvananthapuram, "I thanked them and politely refused the award saying I was not interested in receiving it in an individual capacity."

Left leaders who spoke on the issue have claimed that Magsaysay was a staunch anti-Communist who oversaw the defeat of Communists (Hukbalahap was a Communist guerrilla movement formed by the farmers of Central Luzon) in the Philippines in the 1950s.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) in 1957 established the Ramon Magsaysay Awards to honour the late President of the Philippines, who died in a plane crash in March 1957.

The awards were given for contributions made by citizens of the Philippines and other Asian countries in government service, public service, international understanding, journalism and literature, and community leadership.

Indians including filmmaker Satyajit Ray and cartoonist R K Laxman, former election commissioner T N Sheshan, singer M S Subbulakshmi, scientist M S Swaminathan, former Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are among the past awardees.

As reported by The New Indian Express, "Had the party been in favour of Shailaja accepting the award, she would have been the fifth Keralite to get the honour after Verghese Kurien, M S Swaminathan, B G Verghese and T N Seshan. It would have been after a quarter of a century that the award would have come to Kerala shores."

Also, she would have been the first Keralite woman to receive the same, had the party decided otherwise. It would also have been the first time that the award would have been bagged by a serving politician. She would also have been part of a legendary pantheon of leaders and social reformers like Vinoba Bhave, Mother Teresa and Jayaprakash Narayan, but the party begged to differ. It would indeed have been a major recognition for Kerala as well as for both the state government under Pinarayi Vijayan and the CPM.

(With inputs from Express News Service and PTI)

India Matters


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