Union home minister P Chidambaram on Sunday withdrew his remark attributing Kerala government's "unnecessary" apprehension over the safety of the Mullaperiyar Dam to fear of a coming by-election in the state.
His remark at a Congress meeting in Chennai on Saturday had triggered a furore in Kerala, which is locked in a legal fight with Tamil Nadu over the dam.
"Like some other speakers, I also made a passing reference to the forthcoming by-election. I take back that remark," he said in a statement.
"That reference was not necessary and it was not my intention to hurt the feelings of anyone… I continue to believe that the issue must be resolved in a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood between the people of the two states."
Chidambaram appealed to the people of both states to read his whole speech. "I appeal to everyone that we must act with dignity, restraint and patience. I said fears over the safety of the dam were not justified but it was our duty to allay the apprehensions…," his statement said.
He said, "I said that the safety of the dam was the concern of not only Kerala but also Tamil Nadu, because Tamil Nadu was dependent on the water from the dam. I also appealed to everyone to await the report of the three-judge panel and the decision of the Supreme Court."
Chidambaram's remark has come in for criticism from his Congress colleague and union overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi, who termed it immature.