Kerala Congress (M) leader and Government Chief Whip P. C. George on Wednesday apologised for making some adverse comments against the Congress and its leaders, but only after his remarks stirred strong opposition from various quarters including his party Chairman, K M Mani and Kerala Congress Pradesh Committee president Ramesh Chennithala.

The Government Chief Whip made a hasty retreat by expressing his regrets for such remarks in a letter to Mr. Chennithala. Mr. George’s snide observations about the composition of the KPCC executive came at a function organised here to remember the late Varadarajan Nair, a former finance minister in the late 1970s.

Mr. George, who has been acerbic in his criticism of Congress leaders and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, explained the background of some of his remarks.

He claimed his statements were not directed at the KPCC executive and were rather made in the context of emphasising a point that Varadarajan Nair’s son, Pratapachandran, did not get his due in the party. He alleged that some people were trying to kick up a row by picking a few expressions he had used during his speech. With hindsight, he felt that he should not have made such remarks. “The lapse was not intentional. I wish to inform you my regrets,” he said.

Mr. Chennithala was quite severe in his response to George’s statements, asking Mr. Mani to bridle his party colleague. Mr. George’s statement was an affront to Congress men. The Congress party, which emphasises on a democratic culture, does not want to reply to such remarks, he said.

Mr. Mani said he did not entirely agree with many of George’s remarks. He did not believe that Mr. George’s remarks were premeditated. He had asked Mr. George to observe restraint, especially while referring to other political parties. Most of George’s remarks were personal and cannot be construed as the views of the Kerala Congress (M), Mr. Mani said.

Mr. George has hardly spared any one, be it Mr. Chandy, Home Minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan or Union Defence Minister A K Antony. He had to apologise publically when a remark about Mr. Antony stirred a hornet’s nest. There have been several other occasions when he has fallen foul with other Congress leaders and legislators. The Idukki and Kottayam District Congress Committees recently passed resolutions condemning Mr. George for his statements against the ruling front. Significantly, Mr. George has been careful keeping his diatribes confined to Congress party.

The leadership of the Congress and Kerala Congress (M) are quite worried at the negative impact Mr. George’s statements would have on the Lok Sabha elections in Central Travancore belt, where the two parties can hope to pull off victories only it they cooperative with each other at the husting. Mr. Mani has high stakes in the elections since his son, Jose K Mani will be seeking re-election from Kottayam. The Congress too is not far behind in stakes since it can add to the numbers in Delhi only by consolidating its position in Central Travancore.

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