THIRUVANANTHAPURAM -- A controversy is brewing over the alleged decision of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, an organisation of backward Ezhava community, to exclude Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, from attending the unveiling of former CM R Sankar's statue by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 December.
Chandy in a press note stated that he was "deeply saddened" for keeping away from the function following a request of Vellappally Natesan, general secretary of SNDP, the organiser of the event.
Chandy said though he should have been present at the function being attended by the PM and also because Sankar was a former CM and KPCC chief, he was forced to take the decision to stay away, following the organisers request.
"Natesan had earlier invited me to preside over the function. But, he later requested me over phone not to attend the function as there is protest from some quarters against this," he said.
"So I decided to stay away from it and I am deeply saddened because of this," Chandy said.
Chandy also said he would inform the Prime Minister about the circumstances that led to his backing off and would receive Modi when he arrives at Kochi on 14 December.
Leaders from different political parties have reacted sharply against the SNDP's decision to exclude Chief Minister from the function.
Marxist veteran and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said the SNDP's act was an 'arrogance' towards the people of the state. Natesan was trying to install the statue of 'RSS Sankar' and it was an insult to the great leader, he said.
Expressing shock over the CM's exclusion, veteran Congress leader and CWC member A K Antony said those who had forced the organisers to exclude the CM should be exposed and PM should carry out an investigation in this regard.
KPCC chief V M Sudheeran said communal and fascist forces were behind the act of Natesan.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, CPI(M) leader Anathalavattom Anandan and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai were among those flayed SNDP's decision.
However, BJP dismissed allegations that they were behind SNDP's decision to exclude Chandy from the unveiling ceremony.
BJP leader M T Ramesh said the programme was being conducted by SNDP and it was up to them to decide who should participate.
Sankar, chief minister of Kerala during 1962-64, was also the former president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee and former general secretary of SNDP Yogam.
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