An invitation extended to Union Home Minister Amit Shah by Kerala’s Left government to attend a most colourful water sport race in the southern state named after India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was criticised by the opposition Congress on Saturday.
While the Congress alleged that the invitation extended to the Union Home Minister revealed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s “loyalty towards the communal forces and his love for the BJP”, the government defended the decision, saying Mr Shah, along with Chief Ministers of southern state, have been invited for watching the spectacular event at Punnamada lake in Alappuzha on September 4 as they will be in the state for attending the 30th Southern Zonal Council meeting a day ahead.
KPCC chief K Sudhakaran urged CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury to clarify whether the excessive importance given by the CPI(M) Kerala unit to Sangh Parivar leaders is with the blessings of the party’s politburo.
The Chief Minister’s decision to invite those who “insulted and neglected Jawaharlal Nehru the most” as chief guests in the boat race named after him is “objectionable”, Mr Sudhakaran said in a statement.
Rejecting the allegations, a government source close to PTI said there was nothing wrong in the invitation extended to Mr Shah who will be in the state to attend the Southern Zonal Council meeting scheduled for September 3 in Thiruvananthapuram.
The source said the government has invited not only Mr Shah, but also the Chief Ministers of the South Indian states including that of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and Lieutenant Governors of the Union Territories of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands who will be in the southern state to attend the zonal council meeting to watch the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly VD Satheesan said the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should clarify the reason for calling Amit Shah.
“It should be clarified whether the Lavalin case or the gold smuggling case against him is the reason for inviting Shah. It underlines the UDF’s allegation that there is an unholy relationship between the CPI(M) and the Sangh Parivar leadership in Delhi. The Chief Minister and the CPI(M) must respond to this opportunistic stance,” Mr Satheesan told reporters.
The boat race is named after Nehru to commemorate his visit to Kuttanad in the year 1952, during his first tour of Kerala after independence.
He was escorted by the huge snake-boats giving him a roaring reception on his way to Alappuzha from Kottayam then. Impressed by the reception and the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat, Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner. This trophy was later christened the ‘Nehru Trophy’.
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