A visibly embarrassed Left on Tuesday refused to come out openly in support of Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan after his sharp remarks on being snubbed by the father of slain commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. While some passed it off as a "Kerala" matter, some said the "old age" of the chief minister could have provoked the reaction.
The chief minister's own Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) colleagues too refused to come forward in his support.
"Sorry, I cannot comment. The entire thing is happening in Kerala only," CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat told IANS on phone from Kanpur on Tuesday.
Achuthanandan, who had been turned away Sunday evening from the Bangalore house of the Unnikrishnans by the father of Sandeep, had on Monday told an English language TV channel: "Is there any rule that both the Karnataka chief minister and Kerala chief minister should go together to his home? If not for Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have gone there."
Achuthanandan's arch rival within the state party, CPI-M Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan Monday indirectly criticised the chief minister saying Sandeep's father's action was quite natural and an emotional one, adding that it should not be misinterpreted.
Leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Forward Bloc also refused to come forward in support of the chief minister.
"I don't comment on the issue as he is one of my close friends. Politicians should avoid such controversies. It proves that age is a factor in politics too," TJ Chandrachoodan, who is currently in Chennai, told IANS on phone. Achuthanandan is 85 years old.
Echoing the comments of Chandrachoodan on age being a factor in politics, Forward Bloc national secretary G Devarajan said from Kolkata that it was an "old man's response".
Sources in the CPI-M said the party politburo would seek an explanation from Achuthanandan on his "derogatory" remarks.
However, a top CPI leader, on condition of anonymity, said: "Unnikrishnan's response to the chief minister was condemnable. The chief minister and his ministerial colleague Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visited Unnikrishnan's house to condole his son's death. But, Unnikrishnan's response towards the chief minister, who is also an old man, was very unfortunate too."