THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ghazal legend Ghulam Ali was given a rousing welcome in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announcing that Kerala had once again upheld its strong traditions of secularism and liberalism.
Ghulam Ali, who spoke in Urdu, said he was very happy to have been given such a warm reception. ‘’This is my first visit here. This day is very important to me in my 55 years of singing on the stage,’’ he said, accepting the first Swaralaya Global Legendary Award from the chief minister and Deputy Opposition Leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Chandy said that the state had always acknowledged liberal views and great talents. ‘’This function has upheld that tradition. This is indeed a moment of pride for the state,’’ Chandy said.
“’Ustad’ Ghulam Ali, though a Pakistani, is like a brother to all Malayalis,” Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said. The attempts made by ‘Sangh Parivar forces’ to stop the singer from visiting the state, however, had brought shame to the country, he said. ‘’The forces that boasted that he will not be allowed to sing were simply flaunting the savagery of their minds,’’ Achuthanandan said. Singer Pundit Viswanath, who is accompanying Ali, called the Pakistani singer the ‘Badshah of Ghazals.’
The award consists of `1 lakh, a plaque and a citation. Ghulam Ali is scheduled to sing at the Nishagandhi auditorium at 5.45 p.m. on Friday and in Kozhikode on Sunday. The Pak singer’s visit is being organised by Swaralaya and the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival.
M A Baby MLA presided over. Mayor V K Prasanth, GKSF Director Anil Mohammed and Swaralaya chairman G Rajmohan were also present. MBC Youth Choir presented three songs.