Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday said the decision to exclude him from the function of unveiling of former CM R Sankar's statue at Kollam by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a "painful experience" and an "insult" to people of the state.
Inviting a chief minister to attend the statue unveiling ceremony and then asking him to keep away is an insult to the people of the state, Chandy said in a Facebook post on Monday.
"PM is coming to the state for the first time after assuming office. R Sankar is a former chief minister and late Congress leader. As per protocol and basic courtesies Kerala chief minister should have been attending the function," he said.
Chandy, who is facing the heat over the solar scam, said: "I have always tried to keep myself away from controversies, but they have always followed me in an unexpected manner. The latest being withdrawal of invite to attend the statue unveiling ceremony of R Sankar at Kollam."
Until his death, Sankar was a Congressman and, during difficult situations, had led the party and protected party interests, he said. "R Sankar is our pride, he was a Congress chief minister and KPCC president," he said.
"How will a statue unveiling ceremony of a leader who had led the SNDP and SN Trust become the Bharatiya Janata Party's party programme?," he asked and added that he was happy that "strong reactions have emanated from various quarters against attempts to convert the event into a Sangh Parivar event."
Chandy said whatever controversies erupt, "PM, who is on a maiden visit to the state after assuming office, will be welcomed keeping in mind the state's cultural and traditional values. To honour the country's prime minister, by upholding democratic values, is our duty. All courtesies will be shown to him and during the two day programme we will use this as an an opporutnity to raise the issues of the state with the PM."
Vellapally Natesan, who heads Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, an outfit of the backward Ezhava Community, which is organising the unveiling of the statue on Tuesday by Modi, has said it was he who was responsible for excluding Chandy from the function and not the BJP leadership, as was being alleged.
"There has been no pressure from the BJP or anyone else to prevent the chief minister from attending the function," Natesan said at Kollam.