Achuthanandan joins Vijayan in criticising bishop


Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has joined his arch rival and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in attacking a Syro Malabar Church bishop.

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Tamaraserry Bishop Mar Paul Chitilapally has come under attack from the CPI-M for his disclosure that Mathai Chacko, a CPI-M legislator who passed away last year, took the last sacrament just before he died.

Achuthanandan told reporters here Wednesday that the bishop’s statement was in bad taste and he should not said such things.

“It is most unfortunate that the church is now trying to project that Chacko in the last days of his life turned a believer, which is wrong. He always lived as a true communist. Of late, the church has been linking the developments in the professional education sector to Chacko’s death and raking up a controversy,” the chief minister said.

Addressing a public meeting at Kozhikode on Oct 13 to commemorate the first death anniversary of Mathai Chacko, Vijayan lashed out at Chitilapally and alleged that his statement claiming that Chacko took the last sacrament was meant to favour the opposition Congress party.

In response to Vijayan’s demand that church authorities should produce Chacko’s marriage documents to prove that he had married in a church, they dug out a certificate showing that the legislator’s marriage was registered in a church near Kochi on Aug 20, 1992.

But CPI-M Kozhikode district secretary T.P. Ramakrishnan claimed that the signature in the church register was not Chacko’s.

Chacko’s wife Mercy Chacko initially denied that the marriage was registered in a church. Later, she changed her stand and said that Chacko was not with her when she went to the church to register their marriage.

Mercy said: “I had gone to the church and signed the register but he was not there with me. Later, when I told him that I had done this, he was very angry. I under pressure from my mother to get our marriage registered as it would help in the baptism of my son.”

But Father Sebastian Manikoth, the then vicar of the church where the marriage was registered, said that Mercy is not telling the truth.

“Both of them were there and so were their relatives. I even gave a copy of the registration to them to be handed over to the church in their hometown,” Manikoth said.

Meanwhile, all institutions under the Tamaraserry diocese remained closed Wednesday to protest against Vijayan’s remarks.

State Education Minister M.A. Baby has said that strict action would be taken against the school authorities for closing down the educational institutions.