Last year when the two marines were held for killing Indian fishermen, a crucial by-election was staring in the face of Congress-led coalition government in the state.
Taking a defensive as well as offensive stand simultaneously, Congress leaders — fearing raking up the Italian origin issue of Sonia Gandhi — took to a tough posturing.
The Italians raised the issue at every possible level — from PM to the offices of church — and offered joint probe, and compensating the victims. A few months later, compensation was paid, Congress's ally, Kerala Congress won the by-poll — but the political posturing took its toll on the bilateral ties.
"Italians accepted the human tragedy and were remorseful. They made many reasonable suggestions. Italy, has been a very friendly country to India. But the politics and rhetoric reigned," says MK Bhadrakumar, retired career-diplomat who hails from Kerala.
New Delhi insisted law of the land should prevail.
"That's fine. Then the government did nothing much to expedite the case. I don't think many democratic countries will agree the due process means the life-long process," he adds.
"You should see the earnestness with which Kerala pursued this case in the... courts and also in the apex court. Our stand remains the same that they should stand trial according to the Indian law," says Oommen Chandy, chief minister of Kerala. He will be meeting with PM, external affairs minister besides exploring legal options.