Thiruvananthapuram: Criticism poured in on Tuesday over Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan's sharp remarks after being snubbed by the father of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the National Security Guard (NSG) commando killed in the terrorist attack in Mumbai. The Kerala assembly witnessed uproarious scenes over the issue and opposition activists brought a dog to the secretariat with the picture of Achuthanandan slung around its neck.
The Chief Minister, smarting under the snub by K Unnikrishnan, the father of the slain NSG major, told a TV channel on Monday: "Is there any rule that both the Karnataka Chief Minister and Kerala Chief Minister should go together to his (Sandeep's) home? If not for Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have gone there."
Achuthanandan had been turned away from the Bangalore house of the Unnikrishnans when he went to pay his condolences on Sunday evening.
The Kerala assembly witnessed chaotic scenes on Tuesday after question hour when the opposition sought to raise the matter. However, Speaker K Radhakrishnan said that since the Chief Minister was not present, it would be best that the adjournment motion is taken up on Wednesday. Achuthanandan is in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Dissatisfied with the reply, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said the entire country "saw the way in which the Chief Minister spoke about a martyr".
When the entire opposition was on its feet, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said, "Nothing will happen if the matter is kept for tomorrow because the Chief Minister is not present. Moreover, we don't know what was said, because the media has been giving different versions."
With Radhakrishnan sticking to his stand that it would be taken up on Wednesday, the opposition finally accepted it and cooled down their tempers.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists arrived with a black dog, with a picture of Achuthanandan tied round 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.
A large crowd gathered to watch the protesters and many onlookers were heard saying that Achuthanandan's words had crossed all limits.
"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 as he watched the protest by various organisations.
Another bystander, Peter Jacobs, said: "It is not proper for a man in his position to say such things."
Thomas John, a tour operator, said that Achuthanandan should publicly apologise for his curt remarks which were "unbecoming of a Chief Minister".
"The sad part is that this comes from a veteran Communist who has undergone a lot of struggle in his life. I am really disgusted by his remarks, he should never ever have said that," said John.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Sooraj E, a Class 11 student of a leading school in the capital city.
"Since the terror attack began, everyone is so proud of our army and commandos. After watching on TV how they risked their lives to fight the terrorists in Mumbai, the remark by Achuthanandan was in bad taste. The least he can now do is to apologise," said Sooraj.