While Kerala's rival political fronts and the supporters of People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Abdul Nasser Mahdhani expressed happiness over his acquittal on Wednesday in the 1998 Coimbatore serial bombings, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was not happy with the verdict.
The blasts on February 14, 1998, had taken place during the election tour to Coimbatore by BJP leader LK Advani. It had left 58 people dead and injured 250.
Speaking to reporters, former BJP central minister O Rajagopal said: "The political hypocrisy of both the rivals (Left and the United Democratic Front) stands exposed after we heard them expressing happiness over Mahdhani's acquittal."
"The Left government in Kerala had arrested Mahdhani in 1998 and the UDF has been subsequently shouting from the roof tops of the injustice meted out to him. The court has followed the case on the basis of the evidence, and it is here that we feel there has been some foul play. Both the fronts (Left and UDF) have deceived the people," he said.
Kummanam Rajasekeran, chairman of Hindu Aykia Vedi, a feeder organisation of the BJP here, said the verdict by a Coimbatore sessions court was "suspicious".
"Over the years it was very evident that both the rival fronts in the state had come out in the open to support Mahdhani, and using their political influence they have tried to put pressure through several ways on the case. So, we see something suspicion in this. Time will only tell if there was any interference in any way," said Rajasekeran.
Mahdhani is expected to be released Thursday morning and would be flown down to Thiruvananthapuram from Coimbatore airport.
"Mahdhani, who is ailing, will be taken to a private hospital here for treatment. Before that there would be a rousing public reception for him at the seaside near the airport. We will invite Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and a large number of leaders for this," said Poonthura Siraj, working president of the PDP.
Siraj, who was in Coimbatore to meet his leader, said that their prime concern now was to get Mahdhani back to good health.
"He has been suffering in the last nearly nine-and-a-half years that he was in Coimbatore jail. He has lost more than 50 kg. We are also concerned about his security. We have asked all supporters to ensure that celebrations do not cross limits," said Siraj.
Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Mahdhani would be given protection when he arrives in the state. Both Achuthanandan and Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy expressed happiness over his acquittal.
PDP workers came out on the streets to celebrate Mahdhani's acquittal on all charges in the case.
Mahdhani's wife, Sufiya, said she was thankful to god for the clean chit to her husband and the verdict "was on expected lines".
"It has been our prayer (his release) for several years and Allah is great, he has heard our prayers. We are really delighted," she said.
Mahdhani's release has come as a major relief to authorities in Kerala who had launched a massive security drive in major bus and railway stations ahead of the verdict.
Now all eyes are on the political stand that Mahdhani takes. He directed his followers to vote for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the 2006 assembly polls.
However, Mahdhani still has 18 other cases registered against him in various courts in Kerala, though all these cases have by now been transferred to the court of an additional chief judicial magistrate in Kochi.