Lewd comment against VS: LDF forces adjournment

Thiruvananthapuram: Protesting against Forest Minister K B Ganesh Kumar`s lewd comment against CPI(M) veteran V S Achuthanandan, opposition LDF today forced the adjournment of Kerala Assembly for the day despite Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Kumar expressing regret over it.

While Chandy expressed regret in the House as soon as the sitting began, Kumar regretted the slip of the tongue at a press meet held shortly after the Assembly adjourned mid-way through the question hour.

As soon as the day`s proceedings began, LDF members were on their feet demanding that Kumar be dropped from the cabinet for fulminating at the opposition leader at a public meeting at Pathanapuram in Kollam district last night. Seeking to assuage the ruffled feelings, Chandy stood up and said that he was expressing regret over the minster`s remarks on behalf of the UDF Government.

However, the opposition members refused to be pacified and many of them moved away from their seats and kept on shouting slogans demanding action against Kumar for his `uncultured remarks" against the 88-year-old leader and former Chief Minister. Sensing trouble, Speaker G Karthikeyan rushed through the proceedings and adjourned the House for the day.

Immediately after that, Kumar told a press meet that he profusely regretted for his comments against Achuthanandan.

He said, for a moment, suppressed feelings got better of him as Achuthanandan had been "haunting" his father and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai, now serving sentence in a corruption case, for the last 18 years. Kumar, however, said he should not have said what he had said about Achuthanandan, especially in view of the latter`s age. When asked if his was an expression of regret or he was apologising, Kumar said it could be taken as an apology as well.

In the same breath, Kumar said for the last several weeks Achuthanandan had been relentlessly attacking his father in the Assembly and as a son he had been silently bearing the outbursts without getting provoked. A film actor before plunging into politics as successor of his father, Kumar said he had no difficulty in admitting that "a mistake is a mistake, which should not have happened."

Kumar`s father Balakrishna Pillai, a controversial figure in Kerala politics, is undergoing one year-imprisonment following his conviction in a corruption case by the Supreme Court in February.

Interestingly, Pillai, known for his acerbic tongue, also landed in trouble in late 1980s when he was a minister for calling for a stir against the Centre`s neglect of the state. He was at that time dropped from the UDF ministry headed by late Congress stalwart K Karunakaran.

Kumar`s controversial speech sparked instant protest with youth, women and student outfits of the CPI-M and other LDF constituents hitting the street in all parts of the state last night itself.