Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister and CPI(M) veteran VS Achuthanandan on Monday sought to play down the controversy surrounding his remarks against former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, saying he had high regard for the Nehru family`s contribution to the nation.
Seeking to explain his remarks against Rajiv Gandhi on different issues, including anti-Sikh riots, which had enraged the Congress, he said he had only meant Rajiv had not shown "composure" and "impartiality" in dealing with the situation then.
Achuthanandan was replying to a submission by Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy in the assembly over his remarks.
Rajiv Gandhi had even sought to justify the anti-Sikh riots, saying "when a big tree falls, there will be after-shocks," which had triggered a controversy, he said.
However, stopping short of expressing regret, Achuthanandan said he had maintained respect for the late prime minister while criticising him.
"I have also not forgotten the contributions of the Nehru family to the country," he said.
"I hope Opposition members would correct their misunderstandings about my speech on Rajiv," he said, which calmed the Opposition benches.
On Friday last, Achuthanandan had said in the assembly that it was Congress which declared the Emergency and "Rajiv`s goondas" had attacked Justice VR Krishna Iyer those days.
But later he said he remarked so inadvertently and was in fact referring to Sanjay Gandhi.
A day later, at a CPI(M) function, Achuthanandan had said Rajiv Gandhi was no better than Sanjay Gandhi and had blamed him for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, as also for the escape of Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson from the country after the
Bhopal gas tragedy.
Chandy, in his speech, said Rajiv Gandhi had taken the lead role in instructing officials to maintain law and order during the riots. The Chief Minister had "crossed the limits"
while criticising Rajiv Gandhi and it was unbecoming of his position, he said.