After coming under fire for his sexually-coloured remarks against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former member of Parliament Joyce George on Tuesday withdrew his comments and expressed regret publicly, even as the national party demanded his arrest while the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist distanced itself from the slur.
"I hereby unconditionally withdraw the inappropriate remarks made by me while addressing an election rally in Irattayar in Idukki on Monday. I also express regret over that," he said while speaking at a meeting in Kumaly in this high range district.
George had won as the CPI-M supported independent during the 2014 Parliament election from Idukki but lost to the Congress's Dean Kuriakose in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
As TV channels started airing the visuals of his speech in Irattayar this morning, sharp reactions poured in from various quarters especially from the Congress-United Democratic Front fold which strongly condemned the remarks and described it as "misogynistic".
Sensing that the objectionable remarks would give the opposition ammunition to target them during campaigns in the poll-bound state, the CPI-M was quick to reject George's comments.
Distancing himself the derogatory comments, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made it clear that attacking Gandhi personally was not the LDF's stand.
"We will oppose him politically not personally,” Vijayan told reporters in Kasaragod.
Soon after that, the CPI-M state secretariat issued a press statement stating that the Left party does not agree with the remarks made by their ex-MP.
"The CPI-M is opposing the political stand taken by the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi. Such remarks will only help to deviate attention from the political criticism. Nobody should make such comments," it said.
Attacking the opposition Congress-led UDF and Rahul Gandhi in particular, George, during his Irattayar speech, had said Gandhi would visit only women's colleges and the girls should be 'careful' while dealing with the former Congress president.
"Rahul Gandhi is a bachelor and troublemaker.. so girls should be wary of him.. do not bent down in front of him," he had said while campaigning for Power Minister M M Mani.
The former Left independent MP's remarks came days after Gandhi had given Aikido lessons at the famed St Teresa's college in Kochi following the request of a student.
The Congress leader had visited the women's college for an interaction with students after he arrived in the state for election campaigning.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders were up in arm against the George's obscene statements against Gandhi.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala termed the remarks against Gandhi as “unfortunate and unacceptable”.
A case should be registered against the former MP and he should be arrested, he said.
KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran and former chief minister Oommen Chandy lashed out at the ex-MP and said the remarks were "high deplorable" and "unacceptable".
Member of Parliament and Youth Congress leader Dean Kuriakose said George might have spoken about his own character.
"The vulgarity within him has come out now. What is his merit to criticise Rahul Gandhi? He is trying to follow the footsteps of power minister M M Mani, known for making such derogatory comments," he said.
Kuriakose said through the comments, the former MP had not only insulted Gandhi but also the girl students.
He also said he would soon lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against George in this connection.
Criticising George, Kerala Congress leader P J Joseph said the remarks were 'immature' and wanted to know whether it was the opinion of the entire LDF.
However, minister M M Mani justified George and said he had not made any anti-women remarks and only criticised Rahul Gandhi.