Karat apologises after fury over Achuthanandan’s ‘dog’ remark (Roundup)

December 2nd, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 2 (IANS) People across India reacted with shock and dismay over Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s remark that even a “dog” would not visit the house of commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed fighting terrorists in Mumbai, with some demanding the Marxist leader’s resignation.Even as Achuthanandan refused to apologise, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat described the remark by the chief minister 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.

“I have spoken to him (chief minister) over telephone from Rajasthan. He has assured that he had no other intention but to go to the home of Unnikrishnan, who was brutally killed by terrorists, to pay homage and to condole with the family.”

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.

A livid Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said the CPI-M should “pack off” the chief minister, a veteran politician.

“Such remarks are an open insult to our martyrs and no one can take it lightly. This is a very serious matter and I will talk to the CPI-M that the chief minister should be packed off,” Lalu Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.

Across the country, men and women reacted in similar fashion.

“How can he ever say such words to a soldier who laid down his life? I never expected this from a person like Achuthanandan,” said an elderly man in Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala capital.

Peter Jacobs of New Delhi said: “It is not proper for a man in his position to say such things.”

Thomas John, a tour operator in Kerala, insisted that Achuthanandan should publicly apologise, calling the remarks “unbecoming of a chief minister”.

“The sad part is that this comes from a veteran Communist. I am really disgusted. He should never ever have said that,” he added.

Even the chief minister’s own party colleagues refused to defend him.

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. Achuthanandan is 85 years old.

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

Sources in the CPI-M said the politburo would seek an explanation from Achuthanandan.

The anger was most evident in Kerala.

The state assembly witnessed uproarious scenes, with opposition members seeking to move an adjournment motion. However, as the chief minister was not present in the state, the matter was postponed to Wednesday.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists arrived at the secretariat with a black dog and with a picture of Achuthanandan slung around its neck. Later, in a symbolic gesture, they “hanged” an effigy of Achuthanandan in front of the secretariat.

Youth Congress activists took out a march to the secretariat and burnt an effigy of the chief minister.

In Bangalore, N. Vikram Sinha, a RTI activist, told IANS: “Politicians who make such kind of statements should take permanent retirement from politics.”

Sandeep Singh of Delhi said: “It is not acceptable at all. He (chief minister) should not have passed such nonsensical remarks. He should quit as soon as possible.”

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