NEW DELHI: The Centre today distanced itself from the row over exclusion of Chief Minister Oomen Chandy from a Prime Minister's event during Kerala visit, saying it has no role in it and termed as "baseless" the political vendetta charge levelled by Congress which stalled proceedings in Lok Sabha on the issue.
Asserting that the NDA government does not believe in confrontation with any state government, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it was a "needless" controversy and the decision on the invite was taken by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SND), an organisation of Ezhava community which was organising the event.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a two-day visit to Kerala from today, his first since assuming office in May last year. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today targeted Modi over Chandy not being invited to the event, saying he has "insulted" the people of the state. Congress also staged a walkout in Lok Sabha over the issue.
"The controversy over the invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for SNDP function is needless and based on presumptions and assumption. SNDP is a social organisation and extending invitations to individuals or dignitaries is its own decision and discretion," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in a statement here.
Singh said the NDA government does not believe in confrontation with any state government and "we always work to strengthen cooperative federalism".
"The SNDP must have invited the Kerala CM also for the function but later changed its mind and decided against it. Government had no role in this," he said.
The Centre also released a letter from Kerala government in which Chandy had conveyed his decision not to attend the function without assigning any reason.
The December 12 letter by special secretary, Kerala government and State Protocol Officer T P Vijayakumar to K Salil Kumar, under secretary (Pers) in the Prime Minister's Office states that the chief minister will not be attending the functions of unveiling of statue of former chief minister R Shankar and paying respects to Sreee Narayana Guru scheduled on December 15.
"The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Kerala has conveyed the decision to the undersigned that he will not be attending the functions 'Unveiling of staue of Shri R Shankar, former CM, Kerala' scheduled to be held at S N College, Kollam on 15th December 2015 and 'paying respects to Sree Narayana Guru and planting of sapling' at Sivagiri Mutt, Varkala on the same day alogn with the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India," it said.
Speaking in Lok Sabha, Singh said the decision to withdraw the invite to Chandy was taken by SNDP due to its "internal row".
"Who is invited and who is not is a decision for the SNDP to take and the government has nothing to do with it," Singh said.
The SNDP has entered into a political alliance with the BJP in Kerala.
SNDP leader Vellapally Natesan today took responsibility for the decision not to invite Chandy.
"There has been no pressure from the BJP or anyone else to prevent the Chief Minister from attending the function", Natesan said at Kollam.