Kerala: Cong kicks up row over CPM govt invite to Amit Shah for Nehru Trophy event

Opposition Congress in Kerala Saturday kicked up a row over CPI(M) government inviting Union Home Minister Amit Shah as the chief guest for the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, an annual event, to be held in the backwaters of Alappuzha on September 4.

Shah would be in Kerala capital to take part in the South Zone Council meeting on September 3. Kerala is hosting the 30th meeting of the South Zone Council, which comprises Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. The boat race would be held the next day.

Congress legislator and Opposition Leader VD Satheesan wanted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to disclose what prompted him to invite Shah for the boat race. “Vijayan should make clear whether it is the gold smuggling case or the SNC Lavalin case (which the Supreme Court is considering on September 13) that prompted him to invite Shah for the event. Many events are evolving in Kerala which underscore the Congress-led UDF allegation that there is an unholy nexus between the CPI(M) and the BJP in Delhi. The CPI(M) should answer for his opportunistic stand. The nexus between Sangh Parivar and the CPI(M) in Kerala was evident in the last assembly elections. Both the BJP and the CPI(M) are working together to eliminate the Congress,’’ he said.

The CBI had petitioned the Supreme Court against a special court order allowing the discharge petition of Vijayan and others in the Lavalin case, a corruption scandal related to renovation of hydel power projects in Kerala in 1997. Although the CBI had petitioned the apex court in 2017 against the acquittal, the Supreme Court had postponed the hearing of the case around 30 times over the years.

Congress state president K Sudhakaran said the invitation for Shah demonstrated Vijayan’s ‘loyalty’ towards communal forces. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechuri should come clean on the undue importance given to the BJP by CPI(M) Kerala leaders, he added.

The CMO in an official release said the government has invited Shah and chief ministers of southern states, who are coming to Kerala for the South Zone Council meeting, for the boat race in Alappuzha.

However, the fact that the CPI(M) had not spared UDF leaders in similar situations would haunt the ruling party, said political observers.

In 2019, when UDF MP NK Premachandran, who represents Kollam in the Lok Sabha, invited the prime minister for opening an NH bypass in his constituency, the CPI(M) had unleashed a campaign against Premachandran, a leader of the RSP. The CPI(M) had dubbed Premachandran a ‘sanghi’ (meaning Sangh Parivar man) and an agent of the BJP. During the previous UDF regime, when then labour minister Shibu Baby John visited the National Institute of Design-Ahmedabad, the CPI(M) had sought his resignation for visiting an institute in a BJP-ruled state.