New Delhi: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that keeping him out of a function to unveil a statute of a late chief minister R Sankar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday was an "insult" to the state and suspected that BJP was behind it.
"If you go by the elimination process, the suspicion leads you there (to the BJP)," he told a news magazine.
"Vellapally Natesan (SNDP leader) called me up and told me that it was difficult for him to let me attend the function as he was under tremendous pressure. I am absolutely certain that Natesan is not behind this," Chandy said.
Natesan is the General Secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, which organised the event in Kollam yesterday, and has floated a new party Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), which is likely to align with BJP in the next year's Assembly Elections in Kerala.
"Although I am extremely sad, the grief isn't personal. To keep the CM out of such a function is an insult to the state," the chief minister said.
Asked about Home Minister Rajnath Singh's statement in Parliament that the chief minister's office had sent a letter saying he was giving the function a miss, Chandy replied that in the the afternoon of December 12, his office issued a press release about him not attending the function which explained in detail that he was skipping it because those who had invited him themselves asked him not to come.
"So, quite clear that I was not withdrawing on my own. Then I got a call from an officer of special duty in the PMO saying that Natesan told them I would not be attending and asked for my confirmation.”
"After this the state protocol officer got a call from the PMO asking whether the CM would attend the function. When he said I would not be attending, the PMO insisted that the response should be given in writing. That was how the letter was sent," Chandy said.
The chief minister said the Congress in Kerala was quite sentimental about Shankar as the party never had a CM of its own after him as those who came after him were leading Congress-led alliances.
So when he was asked to stay away from the event after being invited to preside over it first, it hurt him deeply, Chandy said.
He said although he was sad about the whole thing, he exercised utmost restraint while the prime minister was in Kerala as he did not want the PM's programmes to suffer in any manner.
He received Modi when he arrived in Kochi and the entire Cabinet was present to see him off at Thiruvananthapuram airport.
Chandy said he had handed over a letter to Modi about about his views on the controversy while seeing him off at the airport.
He said although there was a possibility of an alliance between BJP and BDJS, the people of Kerala would not let the alliance flourish and that the statue unveiling controversy pointed to that.