A day after he was criticised by the ruling CPI(M) for having lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UDF MP NK Premachandran on Sunday received support from the Congress leadership in Kerala who made it clear that there was nothing wrong in accepting the invitation extended by the Prime Minister.
Whole-heartedly backing the Kollam MP, KPCC chief K Sudhakaran and Leader of Opposition in the assembly VD Satheesan said the Marxist party was deliberately creating controversies as they had nothing else to say.
Mr Premachandran is a leader of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), an ally of the Congress-led UDF Opposition in the southern state.
While jointly addressing a press conference, the leaders said Mr Premachandran is one of the best parliamentarians in the country and a popular MP.
What was the controversy about him having lunch with the Prime Minister at the Parliament’s canteen, Mr Satheesan asked.
“Even when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is politically opposed, the Opposition leader and (UDF) MLAs attend the meeting called by him. Similarly, Premachandran also received an invitation from the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.
While answering a question, the LoP also said the Congress party didn’t criticise Mr Vijayan when receiving PM Modi and saw him off during his recent visit to the state.
Like the BJP, CPI(M) was also playing the trick of creating communal polarisation in the society to get votes, Mr Satheesan further charged.
Mr Sudhakaran also criticised the ruling party for creating a row over the incident and asked whether Chief Minister Vijayan hadn’t gone to meet PM Modi.
“There is nothing wrong with Premachandran accepting the Prime Minister’s invitation,” he added.
In Thiruvananthapuram, senior Congress Leader and MP K Muraleedharan also extended support to the Kollam MP and said if he received a similar invitation from the PMO, he would also have accepted it.
Mr Premachandran’s lunch with the Prime Minister triggered a political row in Kerala on Saturday, with the ruling CPI(M) taking a dig at him pointing out his “closeness” with PM Modi.
The Kollam MP was among the parliamentarians, selected from different parties, with whom PM Modi had lunch at the Parliament canteen on Friday.
While Mr Premachandran justified his accepting the invitation from the PMO saying it was a friendly meeting beyond politics, senior CPI(M) leader and Finance Minister KN Balagopal made fun of him, saying that he might have gone as he was so close to the Prime Minister.
Senior Marxist party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem and LDF Convenor EP Jayarajan also slammed Mr Premachandran’s gesture.
However, Mr Premachandran told the media that it was a sheer “friendly meeting” and a “new and happy experience in life.” “It was an unexpected invitation from the PMO. It was just a friendly and casual talk…No political matter ever came up for discussion,” he said.
Praising PM Modi’s friendly behaviour during the meeting, the UDF MP said he spoke in a way that did not give the impression that it was the PM who was speaking.
During the meeting, PM Modi shared his life experiences, about his daily routine, the days during his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister and so on, he said.
“Beyond politics, it was a personal meeting…and a new experience in life,” he added.
When reporters sought his reaction over the matter, Mr Balagopal said in a lighter vein that Mr Premachandran was invited by the PM for lunch as he has confidence in him.
Certain people were invited and things were discussed, the state finance minister said, pointing out to the invitation extended to select MPs.
“What should I say about the meeting for lunch? It was because of the trust (between them),” he said with a smile.
Balagopal also accused the UDF MPs, including Mr Premachandran, of raising questions in Parliament in a way that strengthened the arguments by the Centre against the state government.
BJD leader Sasmit Patra, RSP leader NK Premachandran, TDP’s K Ram Mohan Naidu, BSP’s Ritesh Pandey and some BJP leaders, including Union Minister L Murugan and Heena Gavit, were with PM Modi as they had lunch together.
PM Modi later posted pictures of their meal together and said, “Enjoyed a sumptuous lunch, made even better thanks to the company of parliamentary colleagues from various parties and different parts of India.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)