Chandy told to keep off event to honour Congress leader

Chandy told to keep off event to honour Congress leader

In a significant development defined by Kerala’s changing political equations, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been “requested” to keep away from a function, scheduled to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to unveil a statue of late former chief minister and Congress stalwart R Sankar.

The chief minister’s office said on Saturday that Chandy decided to skip the event in Kollam on December 15, following a request by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan.

The leadership of SNDP, representing the Hindu Ezhava community, recently launched a political party, Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, which is expected to form an alliance with the BJP ahead of next year’s Assembly election. Sankar, who served as the chief minister between 1962 and 1964, was also SNDP president before his term.

Natesan requested Chandy over phone not to attend the function since there was opposition from “some quarters” against the chief minister’s presence at the event, scheduled at the Sree Narayana College in Kollam. Chandy was, earlier, invited to the function by Natesan himself. Even programme schedules featuring the CM’s name had also been distributed.

“I was obliged to attend the event since R Sankar was KPCC president and chief minister. I also had the responsibility, on protocol requirements, to be at the event attended by the prime minister. However, I’m forced to take this decision in the wake of the organisers’ new stand,” Chandy said in a statement.

The chief minister said he was “extremely pained” and would inform the prime minister on reasons for his absence. Natesan refused to divulge details on “opposition” against Chandy. Narendra Modi is scheduled to be in Kerala on December 14 and 15.  The SNDP leadership came under fire from Congress leaders. Veteran leader A K Antony sought to know who were behind the move. 

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