The organisers of the Viswa Malayala Mahotsavam festival postponed the ‘environment and development’ seminar as Speaker G Karthikeyan and Opposition leaders protested against the organisers’ decision to remove poet Sugathakumari as president of the seminar on Thursday.
Sugathakumari was slated to preside over the seminar scheduled to be held at Chandrasekharan Nair stadium at 10 am. However, the organisers, Kerala Sahitya Akademi and Cultural Affairs Department of the government decided to remove her from the presidentship of the function and put the name of the Speaker in her place.
The organisers were apprehensive of Sugathakumari using the occasion to speak out against the government’s controversial stand on the Aranmula airport issue and its move to introduce a Land Use Bill facilitating further reclamation of the paddy land in the state to meet the requirements of the projects showcased in the Emerging Kerala meet.
However, the Speaker also rejected the proposal to be the president of the seminar replacing Sugathakumari.
Irked by the organisers’ stand, Opposition party leaders including Pinarayi Vijayan, Pannian Ravindran and others intimated that they would not attend the seminar. Following this, organisers gave up the seminar. But it was just ten minutes before the scheduled time that Akademi president Perumbadavam Sreedharan announced the matter to the mediapersons. ‘’Those who have agreed earlier to attend the seminar have intimated their inconvenience and we have decided to postpone the event’’ Perumbadavam said.
As the issue developed into a controversy, Cultural Affairs Minister K C Joseph visited Sugathakumari at her house and expressed regret. He also admitted that there were some lapses in the conduct of the festival.
Speaker G Karthikeyan expressed displeasure over dragging him in the controversy. In a statement, he expressed dissatisfaction saying that it was not necessary to make him attend all the functions in the state.
He said it was without his permission that his name was put in the programme of the Viswa Malayala Mahotsavam fest. He had already informed his inconvenience in attending the seminar. But the Cultural Affairs Minister had met him and requested for his participation.
But it should not have been made at the cost of any other celebrity. It was from the media that he came to know that he was accommodated after removing Sugathakumari. He had told the organisers that he could not attend the seminar.
He said the status of the invitee, protocol and propriety of the organisers should be honoured. Sugathakumari said she would attend the postponed seminar if invited.