Kannur (Kerala). A day after facing criticism from the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Kerala for having lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UDF MP NK Premachandran on Sunday received support from the Congress leadership in the state. Kerala Pradesh Congress chief K. Sudhakaran and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan fully supported Kollam MP Premachandran, saying the Marxist party was deliberately creating controversy as they had nothing else to say.
Premachandran is the leader of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), which is an ally of the Congress-led UDF opposition in the southern state. Jointly addressing a press conference here, the leaders said that Premachandran is one of the best and popular parliamentarians of the country.
Satheesan asked what is the controversy in having lunch with the Prime Minister in the Parliament canteen? He said, ‘Even when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is opposed politically, opposition leaders and (UDF) MLAs attend meetings called by him. Similarly, Premachandran also received an invitation from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Responding to a question, Opposition leader Satheesan also said that the Congress party did not criticize Vijayan for welcoming and seeing off PM Modi during his recent visit to the state. Satheesan also alleged that like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the CPI(M) is also trying to create communal polarization in the society to get votes.
Sudhakaran also criticized the ruling party for creating controversy over the incident and questioned whether Chief Minister Vijayan had not gone to meet PM Modi? He said, ‘There is nothing wrong in Premachandran accepting the Prime Minister’s invitation.’ In Thiruvananthapuram, senior Congress leader and MP K Muraleedharan also supported the Kollam MP and said that if he had received a similar invitation from the PMO, he too would have accepted it.
Premachandran’s lunch with the Prime Minister sparked a political controversy in Kerala on Saturday with the state’s ruling CPI(M) taking a dig at him, pointing out his ‘closeness’ to PM Modi. Kollam MP Premachandran was among the MPs elected from different parties with whom Prime Minister Modi had lunch in the Parliament canteen on Friday.
While Premachandran justified accepting the PMO’s invitation by saying it was a friendly meeting beyond politics, senior CPI(M) leader and Finance Minister KN Balagopal mocked him, saying he might have gone because he Very close to the Prime Minister.
Senior Marxist Party leader and Rajya Sabha member E. Karim and LDF convenor EP Jayarajan also criticized Premachandran. However, Premachandran told the media that it was a very ‘friendly meeting’ and ‘a new and pleasant experience in life’. He said, ‘This was an unexpected invitation from the PMO. It was just a friendly and informal conversation…no political issue was discussed.
Praising PM Modi’s friendly behavior during the meeting, the UDF MP said that he spoke in such a way that at no point did it appear that it was the Prime Minister who was speaking. Premachandran said that during the meeting, Modi talked about his life experiences, his daily routine, days of his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister etc. He said, ‘Beyond politics, it was a personal meeting…and a new experience in life.’
When asked by journalists to comment on the matter, Balagopal said in a light tone that Premchandran was invited by the Prime Minister for lunch because PM Modi has confidence in him. Pointing to the invitation given to select MPs, the state Finance Minister said that some people were invited and things were discussed.
He smiled and said, ‘What should I say about the lunch meeting? It was because of the trust (between them).’ Balagopal accused UDF MPs, including Premachandran, of raising questions in Parliament in a manner that strengthened the Centre’s arguments against the state government.
BJD leader Sasmit Patra, RSP leader NK Premachandran, TDP’s K. Some BJP leaders, including Ram Mohan Naidu, BSP’s Ritesh Pandey and Union ministers L Murugan and Heena Gavit, accompanied PM Modi and had lunch together. PM Modi later posted pictures of the lunch and said, “Enjoyed lunch, thanks to MPs from different parties and different parts of India for their company.”
Tags: Congress, cpi, CPIM, Kerala, Narendra modi
FIRST PUBLISHED: February 12, 2024, 24:50 IST