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Kerala: CPM makes Covid hero reject Magsaysay award | India News

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation had picked former Kerala health minister K K Shailaja for the 64th Magsaysay award a few weeks ago, but the CPM‘s central committee member turned it down following the party’s diktat. Shailaja had played a stellar role as a health minister initially during the Nipah outbreak and later during the Covid pandemic.
The CPM said Ramon Magsaysay was a “known oppressor” of Communists and that the fight against Covid in Kerala was collective.
Sitaram Yechury, CPM general secretary, on Sunday said that the party leadership had rejected an award in the name of Ramon Magsaysay, a ‘known oppressor’ of Communists in the Philippines. “Shailaja was chosen as an individual. But the fight against Covid-19 was not the achievement of any single person. Generally, political leaders are not considered for the Magsaysay award,” he said. “Ramon Magsaysay was an anti-Communist,” Yechury added.
Shailaja defended the party decision. “I’m a political leader. Generally, the award is not given to political leaders. It was in this context I discussed the matter with the party leadership and then informed the award foundation that I am not willing to receive the award,” she told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. Kerala’s management of the first wave of Covid-19 – especially its emphasis on proactive and early tracking, testing and treatment – had won international acclaim and Shailaja as health minister had played a pivotal role.
The CPM dismissed speculation that the party leadership made her reject the Magsaysay award due to Shailaja’s rising popularity and the perception that she was an emerging leader who could even replace Pinarayi Vijayan as Kerala chief minister at some point.
CPM’s new state secretary M V Govindan said there was a plot behind the move to present Magsaysay award to a communist leader. “Magsaysay was a prominent anti-Communist. To present the award in his name to a Communist is an attempt to dishonour the recipient. Shailaja understood this and took the right decision,” he said.

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