Since Achuthanandan's visit, all roads leading to the house of the victim have been full of traffic, as the media has been breathlessly reporting the visit. The roads in this area usually lie deserted.
Emerging from the 20-minute meeting with the victim and her family, Achuthanandan said to wait media people: "The girl's father has been in poor health, I've only come to enquire after him."
Asked if the political furor over the 17-year-old case featured in his conversation, Achuthanandan said: "I did not come to discuss the case. As for any legal steps I might take, I would first seek legal advice."
Congress legislator Joseph Vazhaken told IANS that Achuthanandan had taken to hitting the headlines with every opportunity.
"He was chief minister between 2006 and 2011. Why was he never moved by such compassion during his term? Now that the case has returned to the headlines, he is milking the opportunity," Vazhaken said.
Meanwhile, in a related development, Dharmarajan, the lone convict in the Suryanelli sex case, who had been dodging the law since 2005, after slipping from the police net while out on parole, was arrested from a town in neighboring Karnataka Friday.
He was produced before a court here and sent back to jail. A huge crowd gathered to get a glimpse of Dharmarajan, and the policemen found their crowd management skills put to test.
Policemen whisked the convict away, careful to see that he did not interact with waiting media people.
The Suryanelli sex scandal gets its name from the place in Idukki district from where the victim hails.
In Jan 1996, a 16-year-old was threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor and later confined and sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42 men.
The case was back in the spotlight after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial Jan 31, setting aside the acquittal in 2005 by the Kerala High Court of all but one of the 35 accused convicted by a special court.