Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Oomen Chandy was first invited to and then asked to stay away from a function at Kollam on Tuesday being attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, prompting an angry response from former defence minister A.K. Antony, who questioned the flip-flop.
"The chief minister was first invited and then the organisers told him it that would be better if he can keep away from it. People of Kerala want to know, who are these forces behind the organisers who asked the chief minister to keep away from the function," Antony, a senior Congress leader, told reporters here.
Also, top leaders of the Congress party have condemned the organisers' move to first invite the chief minister and then asking him not to take part.
Modi is scheduled to arrive in Kerala on his first visit to the state after taking over as prime minister. On December 15, he will unveil the statue of R. Sankar at Kollam.
Sankar was the former Kerala chief minister and also president of the Congress party.
He was also the top leader of the powerful Sree Narayana Dhama Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam.
The programme has been charted out by SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellapalli Natesan, who last week floated a new political party, which is all set to become the ally of the BJP-led NDA.
Reacting to this episode, Chandy said that he was eagerly waiting to attend the programme.
"Shankar is a former chief minister and former president of the Congress party and the protocol also is such that when the prime minister is in the state, the chief minister should take part but since the organisers who invited me requested me to stay away, I am not taking part," the chief minister said in a release here.
Meanwhile, Natesan told reporters that it was he who had invited Chandy. "I do not want to make this an issue for discussion by TV channels tonight," he said.
Chandy, however, said that he will be in Kochi on December 14 to receive Modi and he will also be there at the airport here to see him off and also meet him along with the entire cabinet.