Italy on Monday linked a coming assembly by-election in Kerala to a brewing diplomatic row with India over the arrest of its marines for the killing of two fishermen.
"Complicating an already complex situation are the elections being held in Kerala that without a doubt (are) influencing the feelings of the citizens, and as a consequence risk influencing the investigation," Adnkronos International news agency quoted Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi as saying in Rome.
The minister's theory is evidently built around Piravom, which goes to polls on March 18. The seat in Ernakulam district is crucial for the Congress-led UDF government, which has a wafer-thin majority.
The UDF has 71 seats and the opposition Left Democratic Front 68. The by-election was necessitated following the death of state food minister TM Jacob in October last year.
This is not the first time the Piravom bypoll is being cited for influencing events in the state. In December last year, home minister P Chidambaram had said Kerala was voicing unnecessary fear over the Mullaperiyar dam row with an eye on the by-election.
After furore in Kerala, Chidambaram withdrew his remark made at a meeting in Chennai.