Kerala ruling coalition chief whip gets home minister's goat

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 22 : The chief whip of the ruling Congress-led coalition in Kerala, P.C. George, engaged in a public spat Sunday with Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan -- and allegations flew thick and fast.

On the occasion of the 63rd death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Dec 15, when a "Run for Unity" was organised in different parts of the country, George was seen wearing a saffron shawl and waving a T-shirt with images of BJP prime minister candidate Narendra Modi on it in Kottayam district.

The run was part of a Gujarat government initiative.

George has clarified that he was only taking part in the event to commemorate India's first home minister. He has said that the run was not conducted by the BJP. Even so, his own party, Kerala Congress-Mani, and others in the ruling coalition, have been embarrassed by his action.

In what appeared to be an attempt to hit back at those attacking him, George claimed that one of the businessmen interacting with the delegation from Gujarat, Abhilash Muraleedharan, was a close friend of Arjun Radhakrishnan, son of Home Minister Radhakrishnan.

He also claimed that Muraleedharan, only a few years ago, was an ordinary man, suggesting that he has benefited from political patronage.

"I am deeply upset by the manner in which my son's picture was put out in a section of the media. He studied well, and went abroad for higher studies. Now he runs a consultancy business. Please tell me what is wrong if he uses his knowledge to make a living? Muraleedharan's company is not black-listed, and I know him for the past 12 years. We are prepared for any probe," an emotionally overwrought home minister told reporters in Kottayam Sunday.

George, however, was unrelenting. He said he had records to show that Muraleedharan was a regular visitor at the home minister's Kottayam home.

"Why is the minister losing his cool? He has even said that I speak under intoxication, though I am one who uses no liquor at all," George told the media in response to the home minister's statements.

--IANS (Posted on 22-12-2013)

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