Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, on Saturday announced that he will return the ONV literary prize amid a row over his selection for the award, PTI reported. The prize has been instituted in memory of Malayalam poet ONV Kurup.

Vairamuthu’s statement came a day after the ONV Cultural Academy said it will review its decision to give the prize to him, as outrage grew over the decision.

On Saturday, the poet-lyricist put up a video statement in Tamil on Twitter, saying that the academy’s decision to reconsider awarding him was based on “the interference of those with vendetta”, according to PTI.

“I believe that this belittles me and ONV [Kurup],” he said, according to The Hindu. “Therefore, I want to avoid receiving this award in the midst of controversies.”

Vairamuthu added that he was refusing the award because he did not want the “scholarly” jury to face embarrassment, PTI reported.

The poet-lyricist said he would like to donate the cash prize of Rs 3 lakh to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Public Relief fund, adding that he will also make a personal contribution of Rs 2 lakh.

Vairamuthu was accused of sexual misconduct by singer Chinmayi Sripada, actors Geetu Mohandas and Parvathi Thiruvothu and others during the MeToo movement in India in 2018. They took to social media to criticise the ONV Cultural Academy’s decision to award Vairamuthu. The poet-lyricist had denied the accusations against him.

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