Thiruvananthapuram, July 4 (Calcutta Tube) Congress leaders in Kerala Sunday condemned Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan for ‘insulting’ Rajiv Gandhi by holding the former prime minister responsible for the anti-Sikh riots that broke out soon after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984.
Congress leaders had created a furore in the state assembly Friday after a slip of the tongue by Achuthanandan, who named Rajiv Gandhi, instead of Sanjay Gandhi as he recalled how the latter’s ‘goons’ attacked a judge soon after the emergency was clamped in the country in 1975.
Opposition members rushed towards the speaker’s podium and the presiding officer adjourned the session.
However, Achuthanandan, while inaugurating a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) party office in his home district Saturday, recalled the incident in the assembly and said he ‘later realised that Rajiv Gandhi was no better that Sanjay Gandhi because he was responsible for the killings of Sikhs after his mother’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards’.
He also accused Rajiv Gandhi of being instrumental in allowing safe passage for then Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson soon after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
Taking strong exception to the chief minister’s statements, Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy said that it was high time that Achuthanandan stopped airing baseless allegations.
‘Rajiv Gandhi is one leader who is adored by millions across the globe. Achuthanandan has time and again proved through his conduct that he is shame to all and one who has no moral right to sit in the chair of the chief minister,’ he said.
State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala told reporters here that when Indira Gandhi was killed, Rajiv Gandhi was in Calcutta, now called Kolkta, and arrived in Delhi soon after the incident.
‘I was the NSUI (National Students Union of India) national president at that time and was working from Delhi. I remember Rajiv Gandhi asking us to go and visit the areas where trouble broke out to cool tempers,’ he said.
Claiming ‘it has become a habit for Achuthanandan to air derogatory remarks’, Chennithala said that as a political leader, he is free to air statements ‘but he forgets that he is the chief minister and for such a person it is indeed a shameful act and he should immediately apologise’.
Meanwhile, angry activists of the Kerala Students Union (the state branch of the Congress student wing) took out protest marches at Malappuram and Kozhikode and burnt Achuthanandan’s effigy.