KOZHIKODE: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought an explanation in the complaint that Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had violated protocol by allowing PR professional Smitha Menon to take part in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Minister’s meet held in Abhu Dhabi last year as a delegate.
Smitha Menon was later appointed the state secretary of BJP’s Mahila Morcha. The PMO has asked External Affairs Ministry joint secretary Arun K Chatterjee to look into the issue, as per information received by the complainant in the case -- Loktantrik Yuva Janata Dal national president Saleem Madavoor. Madavoor approached the PMO to learn the basis on which Smitha was made a delegate in the meet, which was attended only by foreign affairs ministers and top-level officers from 22 countries.
“The Indian Embassy in the UAE had made it clear that Smitha was not part of the Indian delegation. Muraleedharan had violated the protocol by helping her to participate in the meet. Though Muraleedharan first denied that he didn’t help Smitha, he backtracked after the woman came on record that the minister had given her permission. Now, the minister is claiming that he gave permission to Smitha because she is a media person,” said Madavoor.
Interestingly, Smitha is known in media circles not as a journalist, but as a PR professional based in Kochi. A picture attached with Madavoor’s plaint also showed Smitha sitting on the dias, in a row behind Muraleedharan. At the same time, it is learnt that PMO has received another plaint on the same issue from BJP itself.
Surendran’s spirited defence of Union minister also aimed at detractors within BJP
T’Puram: BJP state president K Surendran has put up a spirited defence of his mentor and Union Minister V Muraleedhran, who is facing protocol violation charges. “The Union minister has not committed any protocol violation. He is not responsible for the participation of mediapersons in the conference,” Surendran told reporters in Kozhikode.
Many see his response also as a message to Muraleedharan’s detractors within the BJP state unit. It is to be noted that no prominent leaders, especially those belonging to the minister’s rival camp, came out in his support in this episode. On the other hand, general secretary M T Ramesh, a prominent leader of the rival faction, reportedly said he was unaware who Smitha Menon was before she was appointed a Mahila Morcha office-bearer. This was widely seen as a jibe at the Muraleedharan camp.
Smitha Menon files police case
Smitha Menon has approached the police alleging defamation through social media using her and family member’s pictures. Kochi police have registered a case also invoking IT Act sections.