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Mullaperiyar: P Chidambaram takes back by-election remark

Home Minister P Chidambaram today withdrew his remarks referring to a by-election in Kerala in the context of the Mullaiperiyar dam row which has created a furore in that state.

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DNA Web Team

Updated: Dec 18, 2011, 10:06 PM IST

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Home Minister P Chidambaram today withdrew his remarks referring to a by-election in Kerala in the context of the Mullaiperiyar dam row which has created a furore in that state.

"Like some other speakers, I also made a passing reference to the forthcoming by-election. I take back that remark," he said in a statement after political leaders in Kerala cutting across political lines criticised his remarks against the backdrop of the dam controversy involving Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

He went on to add, "that reference was not necessary and it was not my intention to hurt the feelings of anyone.

"I continue to believe that the issue must be resolved in a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood between the people of the two states".

The Home Minister appealed to the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to read the whole of his speech delivered at a Congress Party meeting in Chennai yesterday.

Chidambaram also wrote a letter to KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala that he did not want to hurt the feelings of anyone. The contents of the letter were almost identical to the statement.

"I continue to believe that the (Mullaperiyar) issue must be resolved in a spirit of co-operation and brotherhood between the people of the two states," the letter said.

In his speech yesterday, the Home Minister had termed the Kerala government's apprehension over safety of the Mullaperiyar dam as "unnecessary" and claimed it was borne out of "by-poll fear".

The election in Piravam Assembly constituency is expected to be held in February.

Union Minister Vayalar Ravi, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, slammed Chidambaram, describing his remarks as "unfortunate" and said they only showed his "political immaturity".

The Overseas Indian Affairs Minister said he was "disappointed" at Chidambaram for going against the views of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has called for peace between the two states on the issue.

"It is very unfortunate that Chidambaram made a statement. As a Home Minister he is not expected to make such statements. It only shows his political immaturity even though he was speaking at a Congress function," Ravi told reporters in New Delhi.

Chidambaram in his statement appealed to everyone to act with dignity, restraint and patience.

"I said fears over the safety of the dam were not justified but it was our duty to allay the apprehensions on the safety of the dam," the statement said.

Chidambaram further said, "I said that the safety of the dam was the concern of not only Kerala but also Tamil Nadu, because Tamil Nadu was dependent on the water from the dam. I also appealed to everyone to await the report of the three-judge panel and the decision of the Supreme Court".

Asked if he is "happy" that Chidambaram has withdrawn his statement, Chandy said he expressed his feelings yesterday that a national leader and Union Minister has to avoid such statements.

"Today he has withdrawn his statement", Chandy said in Bangalore.

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