Idukki: Kerala Power Minister and senior CPI(M) leader M M Mani, whose remarks against women plantation workers triggered a row, today said he was prepared to resign if asked by the party.
"Only if my party asks, will I resign", he told reporters at nearby Kunchithanni, a day after opposition parties and women organisations demanded his resignation and apology.
Mani's remarks allegedly questioning the character of women activists of a plantation workers' outfit in the district invited strong condemnation from various quarters, including from some of his own party colleagues.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said, "If any offensive statement was made against them (the women), it was improper."
The 70-year old Minister had yesterday expressed regret for his alleged offensive remarks against the women workers, who have launched an agitation demanding his ouster.
He had also claimed his remarks were wrongly interpreted by the media and that he had not made any offensive remarks against the women workers.
Mani also said that Vijayan and party state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had called him over phone and sought his explanation.
However Mani, known for making controversial remarks, refused to apologise, saying, "Let them sit there and agitate."
He said the chapter was closed and he had nothing more to add while and would not visit the agitating workers.
Protesting the remarks, some of the women workers had launched an agitation yesterday and are continuing it today.
Meanwhile, vehicles kept off roads and shops remained closed in the hilly district in view of a dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the NDA.
The opposition Congress led UDF is also lending support to the women's agitation by observing a 'black day'.
Mani had also accused an IAS officer of plotting with the RSS to pull down a cross on an encroached piece of land in Munnar.
The CPI(M) leader had stirred up a controversy few years ago by openly stating that the party had eliminated political rivals in his home district, Idukki.