Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran was denied political clearance to attend a United Nations tourism meet in China in September as it “was not deemed appropriate in national interest”, said the ministry of external affairs (MEA) in an RTI reply.
The reply from MEA came in after Kerala State president of RTI federation D. B. Binu (also an advocate) filed an RTI seeking the reasons behind the denial.
MEA reply to D. B. Binu's RTI application
Kadakampally reacted to the RTI reply saying, “This is a hate campaign against Kerala. When a state minister seeks permission for China visit it is not in national interest, but the central tourism minister can attend the same function in China. A central minister’s visit is in national interest but a state minister’s is not?”
Minister of state for External Affairs V K Singh had earlier told that the request for China visit was denied to ensure that “our people” will not be “downgraded” in the country they are visiting.
“We are conscious that we do not want our people to be downgraded in the country in which they are visiting and that is the sole criteria… (it would not look good) if a junior official is meeting a minister,” he had said.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier criticized Modi government’s decision and called it “unfortunate”. He had also written to the PM asking for reconsideration of the decision and clear Kadakampally’s China visit.
The Kerala minister had asked for permission to visit China to take part in a meeting of the United Nations' World Tourism Organization to be held from September 11 – 15. Kadakampally had sent the request for political clearance on 23rd August. Kadakampally was the only Indian minister who received an invitation from the organizers.
When an RTI was filed by the Kerala advocate and the issue stirred up a political debate, V K Singh said that permission was denied as “correct protocol arrangements” were not followed in submitting the request.