There was uproar in the Kerala assembly on Friday when Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, while criticising the 1975 emergency said, "goons of Rajiv Gandhi", though he meant Sanjay Gandhi, the younger brother of the former prime minister.
The slip enraged legislators of the opposition Congress who rushed towards Speaker K. Radhakrishnan's podium and started shouting slogans against Achuthanandan asking him to withdraw his statement and apologise because Rajiv Gandhi was not in politics at the time.
Realising the mistake amid the shouting of slogans like "Rajiv Gandhi amar rahe", Achuthanandan was heard saying that he meant Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of the late Indira Gandhi who had imposed emergency.
But angry opposition members kept demanding an apology from Achuthanandan. The speaker then adjourned the house for the day.
It all started when the speaker denied the move for an adjournment motion by the Congress-led opposition over the recent verbal attacks by leaders of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist against the judiciary. Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy insisted that this matter be taken up for discussion.
"In the best interest of democracy there should be mutual respect between the judiciary and the executive. The government advocate was silent when the high court said no more public meetings should be held on the roads in the state. But in the past few days your cadres and leaders have unleashed a verbal attack against the judiciary."
"They marched towards the courts in the state and the police remained a mute spectator. This means the government is also party to these verbal attacks unleashed by your leaders," said Chandy.
Achuthanandan in his reply said the country had seen "how your party cadres showed scant respect to the Allahabad court verdict and Indira Gandhi went ahead to impose emergency in the country".
"And then came the more serious attack when Justice V.R Krishna Iyer (then Supreme Court judge) came under attack by the goons of Rajiv Gandhi. What were you doing then?" Achuthanandan asked.
Achuthanandan later told reporters that his government had the highest regard for the judiciary and the recent verdict of the high court banning public assembly of people on roads would have far reaching implications.
"We request the opposition to join us when we give an appeal against the high court verdict. The court had a responsibility to ask the government its views before going ahead with a ban on public assembly of people on the roads. The statements by political leaders against this verdict should be seen as an instant reaction and nothing more than that," he said.