New Delhi(PTI): Congress and BJP members clashed in the Lok Sabha on Monday over the exclusion of Kerala Chief Minister from a Prime Minister’s event on Tuesday with the former alleging that the PM’s constitutional position was being used for “political vendetta”, a charge denied by the government.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh dismissed the charge as “baseless” and said the decision to withdraw the invite to Chandy for the event in Kerala was taken by SNDP, a social organisation which is hosting it, due to its “internal row” and the government had nothing to do with it. The Speaker was forced to adjourn the House earlier due to the uproar over the issue, along with the protests by AAP members against demolition drive in the national capital.
K C Venugopal (Cong) raised it during the Zero Hour soon after the House reassembled noon. “It is an agonising issue which has seriously affected emotions of people of Kerala and the country. It is a serious breach of political morality… Due to the unfair political move by the ruling party at the Centre (BJP), he (Chandy) was dropped. The entire state is shocked and agitating. The PMO or the Prime Minister has a hand in this. Humiliating the Chief Minister is humiliation of Kerala. The constitutional position is being used for political vendetta,” Venugopal said.
Citing the programme schedule sent to the PMO by the state’s protocol department, he said it included the name of Chandy who was to preside over the function while Modi was to unveil the statue of former state chief minister R Shankar. “This is against cooperative federalism. The Prime Minister like always is keeping unjustifiable silence,” he said.
Rejecting the charge as “unfounded and baseless”, the Home Minister said it was true that SNDP had first invited Chandy which led to some “internal row” within it and the organisation then adopted a “unanimous resolution” saying the Chief Minister should not come. “Who is invited and who is not is a decision for the SNDP to take and the government has nothing to do with it,” Singh said.
Asserting that the central government does not want any confrontation with states, the Minister said it had taken many steps to strengthen “cooperative federalism”. Venugopal said the event has been projected as a private event due to political reason.
Saugata Roy (TMC) was heard saying that the Prime Minister should not go to the event amid protests by Congress and Left members. The members of the three parties soon staged a walk out, along with those of the NCP and RJD.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy cited a letter by Chandy quoting him that he would not be attending the event as he was not available. Rudy said Venugopal’s charge was absolutely incorrect. SNDP, an organisation of Ezhava community, has entered into an political alliance with the BJP.