New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived in Kerala for his first visit to the state in office, hours after a combative Rahul Gandhi accused him of insulting the people of the state by having Chief Minister Oommen Chandy dropped from an event.
"PM has insulted the people of Kerala by stopping our Chief Minister from attending a function. The chief minister is the voice of the people of Kerala. This is simply not acceptable to us," Mr Gandhi said in the morning.
The Congress alleges that Mr Chandy was first invited, then asked to keep away from a function on Tuesday in Kollam where the statue of former Congress leader R Sanker is to be inaugurated by PM Modi.
It is not a personal insult. #Kerala was insulted when its CM was denied the right to participate in an event where the PM is attending.- Oommen Chandy (@Oommen_Chandy) December 14, 2015
The PM's Office has hit back saying Mr Chandy had written a letter informing that he would not be able to attend the event. According to the Congress, the Chief Minister says he wrote the letter because he was "asked to".
In Parliament, the Congress was not alone when it walked out of the Lok Sabha to protest the "Kerala insult." It was joined by parties like the Janata Dal (United), NCP, National Conference, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Trinamool Congress.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh denied Mr Gandhi's allegation and said: "Who is invited or not, the prerogative is with the (organisers). They decided not to invite the Chief Minister. Our Government does not want any confrontation with any state government."
The event that has led to so much friction has been organised by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, which represents the backward Ezhava community, perceived a strong vote-bank. R Sanker, a former chief minister, belonged to this community.
The group's leader Vellapalli Natesan said today: "I am responsible for the Chief Minister's name being removed from the function, it was not on BJP's orders. The Congress has made it a political issue beyond the state."
Recently, the group announced a political party that is expected to partner with the BJP for the state polls next year.