Chandy questions PMO's silence over invitation row

Chandy questions PMO's silence over invitation row

Chandy questions PMO's silence over invitation row

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s exclusion from an event to unveil a statue of late chief minister R Sankar has snowballed into a state-Centre row with Chandy questioning the PMO’s silence on the controversy.

On Tuesday, Chandy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondering how the PM would have reacted if he, during his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat, had faced a similar treatment.

“Usually, I keep away from controversies and it is surprising that the PMO hasn’t intervened to avoid controversies. I wish to know what would have been your reaction if such an incident happened in Gujarat while you were the chief minister,” he wrote.

Sankar’s statue was unveiled by Modi in Kollam on Tuesday. The event had run into controversy after Vellappally Natesan, general secretary of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam–an Ezhava community organisation which hosted the event—requested Chandy to keep away from the function.

At the event, Modi said Sankar, a respected Congress leader and former SNDP president, was close to Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The speech triggered allegations that Chandy’s exclusion was an orchestrated move to appropriate Sankar’s political legacy.

Chandy questioned Natesan’s claims about intelligence reports that said there could be protests if he attended the event.

“I verified with the state police intelligence and they were not aware of any such report from any intelligence agency,” he said.  Chandy also pointed out that after an invitation was extended to him and his name featured in the schedule and the programme plaque, Natesan was “forced” to withdraw the invitation due to “unknown reasons”.

Chandy said Union ministers like Rajnath Singh and Rajiv Pratap Rudy “misled” Parliament while reply ing to an Adjournment Motion in the House without verifying facts.

“In the (December 12) evening, in reply to repeated queries from PMO, our State Protocol informed the PMO that I will not be attending the Kollam programme. It had never said that my absence is due to my inconvenience as said by Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Parliament,” the CM said. 

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