A cornered VS apologises

via VR Jayaraj | Thiruvananthapuram published on December 3, 2008



Left
with no other option amidst mounting attacks from all sides, State-wise
as well as nationally, Kerala Chief Minister and senior politburo
member of the CPI(M) VS Achuthanandan offered a formal apology on
Wednesday, though very reluctantly, for the statement he made on Monday
insulting the family and memory of martyred NSG commando Major Sandeep
Unnikrishnan.

Though in the morning he tried to play it clever
in the State Assembly by saying that he was sorry if his statement,
‘distorted’ by media, in connection with Major Sandeep’s family had
caused misunderstanding among people, he was forced to improve upon it
and to offer a formal and unconditional apology later.

He
said, “I am deeply sorry (about the statement), and I regret my
statement that caused much grief to the family of (Major) Sandeep
(Unnikrishnan).”

Achuthanandan had hurled himself into the eye
of a political storm on Monday with his statement to a television
channel that “would even a dog have gone there if it was not Major
Sandeep’s house”. As protests mounted nationwide, his own party general
secretary Prakash Karat issued a statement apologising for
Achuthanandan’s statement.

That Achuthanandan would be forced
to offer an unconditional apology was obvious in the very morning with
Opposition members appearing in the Assembly with determination
carrying placards that called for his resignation. While offering the
apology for the first time in the Assembly, Achutha-nandan said he
suspected some conspiracy behind the incidents at the Major’s residence
in Bangalore during his visit on Sunday.

“The media and
Opposition parties had distorted my statement,” Achuthanandan said in
the Assembly, adding, “I have not made the ‘dog’ remark. People who
made it can swallow it.”

This infuriated the Opposition members,
who walked out of the House declaring nothing short of resignation of
the Chief Minister would settle the issue. Opposition leader Oommen
Chandy said Achuthanandan had lost mental equilibrium. Amidst all this,
they raised a complaint that the Chief Minister in his speech had
talked about Chandy using the worst imaginable obscene slang in
Malayalam.

As the drama continued, Achuthanandan met newsmen in
the Pressroom of the Assembly complex with a written statement, which
offered unconditional apologies to the family of Major Sandeep. This
followed an apology from Unnikrishnan, the martyred major’s father, who
regretted all the developments caused by some statement concerning his
family. A close relative of Unnikrishnan, speaking on behalf of him,
requested all concerned to end the controversy immediately. In the
evening, the State Cabinet decided to grant a monetary assistance of Rs
15 lakh to the family of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan.

The
Opposition was still not ready to relent, and petitioned to Assembly
Speaker K Radhakrishnan on the reported slang-slinging by Achuthanandan
against Chandy, though nobody, not even the newsmen present in the
Press gallery, had heard it properly. The CPI(M) alleged that the
slang-slinging was an invention by Kerala Congress leader KM Mani, an
ally of the Congress, who had always kept a grudge against Chandy.

Sources
close to Achuthanandan said he would not have bowed to the pressure
from the other side if his party had stood behind him solidly. On
Tuesday itself, he was disappointed by party General Secretary Prakash
Karat’s statement that regretted his controversial statement, issued
after a discussion with him, they said. His detractors in the party,
the neo-liberalists led by State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, had
deliberately allowed the situation to deteriorate, they said. In the
afternoon, Vijayan said at a party programme in Thodupuzha, Idukki that
“there were some regrettable factors in the statement of VS”.

BJP
president Rajnath Singh said at the Karippur airport that the Chief
Minister’s statement was ‘objectionable’ and that Communists were known
for making such statements. “I don’t want to speak more on that now
that he has withdrawn the statement,” he said.

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