How Pinarayi's 'idiot' remark came to haunt Balagopal in Assembly

File Photo: Manorama.

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's impulsive remarks could at times turn out to be deadly traps for his own ministers. Finance minister K N Balagopal walked straight into one in the Assembly on Thursday.
The finance minister was tearing into the Congress for accusing the LDF government of fiscal profligacy. As if sticking to issues was not enough, he picked up for scrutiny the utterances of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran.

He held up the Malayala Manorama daily and read out a Sudhakaran quote in which the Congress leader speaks of Pinarayi Vijayan in the most contemptuous manner. Sudhakaran was responding to the Chief Minister's remarks in the Assembly on June 19 that bombs of various types and functionalities were once publicly exhibited in the District Congress Committee (DCC) office in Kannur.

"Is Pinarayi man enough to say that bombs were found in Congress office? How many are the people this fellow (avan) had hacked to death? And how many are the ones he had gunned down," Balagopal read out Sudhakaran's words and said: "This is the language of the KPCC president. See how disrespectfully he is speaking about the Chief Minister of Kerala. And you people (UDF members) seem delighted to lap up all that your president says." Then came Balagopal's coup de grace. "Compared to the words he (Sudhakaran) had used to describe the Opposition leader, this is no big deal." There was uproarious laughter in the ruling side.

Balagopal should have known that opposition leader V D Satheesan would not have let this go. When his turn came, and after he had made all his points, Satheesan came to Balagopal's Sudhakaran reference. "Wasn't it a respected Bishop, and a CPM fellow traveller, your Chief Minister called an idiot," Satheesan asked, referring to Pinarayi's recent attack on Geevarghese Mar Coorilose, former Metropolitan of Niranam Diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church. The ruling benches erupted in angry shouts.

Once the ruckus settled, Satheesan said: "I am not going to repeat all that the Chief Minister has said. That would be unparliamentary. There are three or four words the Chief Minister had used over the years. I am not going to use them because I am determined not to include anything in my speech that would be expunged from Assembly records," Satheesan said.

He switched to sarcasm mode. "When the Chief Minister made those remarks against the Bishop there was only poor Riyas (tourism minister Mohammad Riyas) to rush to his defence," he said, slyly hinting that even the ruling side was disgusted with Pinarayi. "Only Riyas came out and said that the Bishop deserved to be called an idiot. We did not see any MLA or minister come out in support of the Chief Minister. Lucky that there was at least Riyas," the opposition leader said. There was pindrop silence in the ruling side.
Nonetheless, the opposition leader ended with an oblique rebuke of Sudhakaran. "We are of the opinion that everyone should use words carefully and with dignity," he said.

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