Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reiterated the Centre’s commitment to encourage cooperative federalism in Parliament on Monday, while responding to the invitation row in the Lok Sabha.
Exonerating the Centre and the Prime Minister’s Office of all blame, the Union Home Minister said the whole issue was an unfortunate fall-out of the prevailing uneasy relation between the ruling front and the SNDP.
He said that the organizer -the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam in this case- was the one to decide who to invite or not for that matter.
Rajnath termed the unveiling ceremony of the statue of former Kerala Chief Minister R Shankar, scheduled to be held in Kollam on Dec 15, as a private affair.
SNDP General Secretary Vellapally Natesan was quick to step in as the fall-guy, acquiescing to all responsibility for the last-minute withdrawal of invitation to the state’s Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Vellapally was ready to play the villain but not before sarcastically terming Chandy a saint.
The row over the Chief Minister of a state being asked to stay away from an event, to which the Prime Minister was invited, has snowballed into a raging controversy both in Kerala and the Parliament.
A few interesting facts have emerged out of this ongoing wrangle. Basic courtesy and breach of protocol seem to be least in the list.
The very legacy of R Shankar, who was not just a former Chief Minister but also the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President, is now apparently at stake.
CPI(M) state secretariat has gone all out to accuse the Centre and the Kerala BJP state leadership of trying to rewrite history in this regard.
Trying to appropriate Shankar’s legacy as Kerala CM as well as a former SNDP Yogam General Secretary would work to the BJP’s benefit, thereby paving the way for gaining a foothold in the upcoming Kerala Assembly elections, CPI(M) leaders observed.
The fact that Shankar had at one time been the KPCC President was easily swept under the carpet by both the BJP and the SNDP.
With this wily move, Vellappally seems to have now set the ball rolling for the future assimilation of both the SNDP as well as his newly formed Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) party, into the BJP.
This being PM Modi’s first official visit to Kerala after assuming office, lends further drama to the raging issue.
Chandy’s highly emotional response to the whole issue posted on Facebook on Monday is the much-needed icing on the cake.