Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced more heat on Thursday for comparing Kerala to Somalia with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy saying people of the state expected an unconditional apology from him and not his silence after it whipped up a controversy.
The comparison made by Modi at a poll rally in the state early this week when he said the "infant mortality rate among the scheduled tribe community in Kerala is worse than Somalia" has set off a political storm and triggered criticism in the social media.
Twitter users have responded with hashtag #PoMoneModi (Get lost Modi), a take off from the Mohanlal starrer, which features the famous punch line "Po Mone Dinesha" to ridicule some of the characters of his hit film 'Narasimham'.
Chandy flayed Modi for not withdrawing his controversial comment while Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said his statement that it would result in a setback to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the ensuing polls as it has insulted the people of the state. Kerala goes to polls on May 16.
In his Facebook post, Chandy said Modi had kept mum on the controversy and what Keralites want is not his silence, but an unconditional apology from the prime minister.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the election campaign rally without answering my questions. It could be due to the wide criticism he had received not only from the state, but also from Malayali community world over," the senior Congress leader said.
In a hard-hitting letter, Chandy had lambasted Modi, saying he has insulted the state.
He had also requested Modi to show some "political decency" by withdrawing the statement as they are "baseless and contrary to ground realities.
"The people of Kerala, whose self-pride was wounded by the prime minister's statement, expected an unconditional apology from him and not his silence. But it didn't happen," Chandy said in his post, adding that Keralites still hoped he would withdraw his 'Somalia' remark.
Balakrishnan, who is the CPI-M state secretary, said, "Modi's statement would result in a setback to the BJP in the ensuing polls as it has insulted the people of the state."
Referring to Modi's Somalia remark, Balakrishnan said "one thing the prime minister should understand is that the state has no such situation as in Somalia because, the BJP has never come to power".
He said "Gujarat Model" development projected by the BJP was actually a false propaganda.
"It was the first communist government formed in 1957 that laid the foundation for the development path of the state with its policy on land reforms, education, health and also in other sectors," Balakrishnan said.
Taking a swipe at Modi, the CPI-M leader said whichever states that went to polls where Modi led the campaign as the prime minister, the BJP suffered defeat.
"In Kerala also, the same thing is going to happen. The BJP is not going to open an account in the state this time also", he said.