Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday said his words on former minister P.S. Nataraja Pillai were "misrepresented" and he had full respect for him as the Congress demanded that he apologise for his rude remarks.
"I have only high regards and respect for Nataraja Pillai and my words were misinterpreted," said Vijayan while addressing the annual meeting of his Communist Party of India-Marxist's youth wing, DYFI at Kochi, on Sunday night.
Earlier in the day, state Congress President V.M. Sudheeran told the media in the state capital that Vijayan's remark was not acceptable from a Chief Minister.
"The best that Vijayan can do now and that too at the earliest is to apologise to Pillai's family. It is most unfortunate that Vijayan addressed Nataraja Pillai 'as some Pillai'," he said.
Vijayan made the allegedly rude reference to Nataraja Pillai on Saturday when he was asked to comment on a row over the nearly 12 acres of land that is in possession of the Kerala Law Academy located in the capital city.
The academy's students are on an indefinite protest, demanding the resignation of its principal Lekshmi Nair for her mismanagement and rude behaviour.
The land in the possession of the academy originally belonged to Nataraja Pillai and was taken over by the then Diwan of Travancore C.P. Ramaswamy as a punishment to Pillai for participating in the freedom struggle.
Pillai, a respected figure in the state politics, served as a state Minister for Finance for Travancore-Cochin (1954-55).
He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly (1948-50), the Travancore legislative assembly (1944-47 and 1948-50), and the Travancore-Cochin legislative assembly (1951 and 1954-57).
Pillai also represented the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency in the third Lok Sabha as an independent candidate. He passed away in 1966.
Last week, Nataraja Pillai's son N. Venkatesan asked the government to cancel the assignment of the 11.49 acres of land with the privately-run Kerala Law Academy, and take over its possession since the academy was trying to put it to commercial exploitation.
Vijayan on Saturday said his government has no plans to do anything of the kind as the family members of "some Pillai" asked for.
On Sunday, Vijayan breathed fire against K. Muraleedharan, son of former Chief Minister K. Karunakaran, as he is on an indefinite fast in front of the Academy.
"You all know that Muraleedharan is on an indefinite fast in front of the gates of the Academy. What must be noted is that this land was assigned to the Academy by Karunakaran when he was Chief Minister in 1984. They (Karunakaran and his son) do believe in soul and you also know that for a while Muraleedharan and Karunakaran were at loggerheads. Now he (Karunakaran's soul) might be thinking that his son is continuing his tirades against him and not leaving him," he said.