Achuthanandan apologises under pressure from opposition


Thiruvananthapuram : Wilting under pressure from the opposition, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday apologized for his remarks against the family of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed fighting terrorists in Mumbai.

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“I am sad that Sandeep’s family was hurt by my remark. I apologise for that,” Achuthanandan said at a press conference here.

Earlier in the day, Achuthanandan had denied having made derogatory remarks against Unnikrishnan’s family and had accused the media of misinterpreting his statement.

“The media and opposition parties have twisted my statement,” Achuthanandan said in the state assembly.

“I have not made the dog remark. People who made it can swallow it,” he added.

A day after Unnikrishnan’s grieving father chased away Achuthanandan from his Bangalore house, the chief minister told a TV channel in Malayalam: “Is there any rule that both the Karnataka and Kerala chief ministers should go together to his home? If not for Sandeep’s house, not even a dog would have gone there.”

Unnikrishnan, from the elite National Security Guard (NSG), was killed in fierce gun battles with terrorists who seized the Taj hotel in Mumbai in a terror drama that left 183 people dead.

Winding up his speech in the assembly, the chief minister said he was sad that the people of Kerala had been misled.

This led to uproarious scenes in the assembly, with opposition members shouting slogans against the chief minister and demanding his resignation. Speaker K. Radhakrishnan ended the day’s session amidst the chaos.

After leaving the house, Opposition leader Oommen Chandy told mediapersons that Achuthanandan had turned senile and must apologise for his remarks against Unnikrishnan’s family before resigning.

Achuthanandan later called a press conference and apologised for his earlier remarks. However, he accused Chandy of having misquoted him.

“Oommen Chandy twisted what I said in the floor of the assembly. I am here to clarify that,” the chief minister said.

Despite a volley of questions, he stormed out of the room after making his statement.

On Tuesday, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat had described Achuthanandan’s remark against Unnikrishnan’s family as “regrettable” – a view that was echoed by several Communist politicians.

“Certain remarks made by Achuthanandan are regrettable,” Karat said in a brief statement issued in Rajasthan where he is campaigning for assembly elections due Thursday.

Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan made it clear that the chief minister should not have said what he said.

“Politicians should avoid such controversies. It proves that age is a factor in politics too,” T.J. Chandrachoodan of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) told IANS about the 85-year-old Achuthanandan.

Forward Bloc national secretary G. Devarajan also called it an “old man’s response”.