Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 22 (IANS): Social groups and political leaders Monday criticised Kerala opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan for alleging that the head of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore smuggled jewels out of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple.
"Achuthanandan's remark on the royal family could have been easily avoided. I am none to advice him on such issues," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.
State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala said Achuthanandan's remark did not suit his stature.
At a press conference Saturday, Achuthanandan said that Marthanda Varma, head of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore, smuggled jewels from the temple, which was in the news recently for the treasures recovered from its vaults.
"Don't you know that Marthanda Varma goes to the temple everyday? When he returns he carries a tiffin box. The general perception is that he brings the 'payasam'. But it is not that. Instead, it is jewels," Achuthanandan said.
Achuthanandan also said this was told to him by a former temple priest.
Varma oversees the functioning of the famous temple through an executive committee.
G. Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of Nair Service Society, a social organisation of the Nair community, said that such statements from Achuthanandan is nothing new, but as the leader of opposition he should not have made these allegations.
"All these years, the royal family did the job of carefully preserving and protecting the wealth of the temple, and forgetting that Achuthanandan has made an irresponsible statement," Finance Minister K.M. Mani said.
Meanwhile, the temple employees union in a press release issued here Monday said that no employee of the temple had lost his job after being a witness to the "smuggling", as alleged by Achuthanandan.
However, Achuthanandan's party colleague and former finance minister Thomas Issac said it was strange that a "king" could not be criticised.
"We communists do not have any love for kingdoms. The best that can now happen is an open discussion on this topic," said Issac.