P.C. George, Kerala Congress (M) vice-chairman, who had been keeping away from controversies following a reprimand from the party chairman, K.M. Mani, has again dragged the party into trouble by flagging off a run-for-unity event sponsored by the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust chaired by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
While his inaugural address was devoid of any controversial statements, what attracted attention was his waving of a T-shirt which had an image of Mr. Modi. When confronted by the media about his action, Mr. George said the programme was not organised by the BJP. He was only participating in a programme organised by an independent organisation, which was chaired by the former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas in the State.
Mr. Mani, reacting to queries from presspersons, said the issue would be discussed in party forums.
The action has attracted harsh criticism from Mr. George’s bete noire in the party, Francis George, and many Congress leaders have found it a highly inappropriate and ill-timed action.
Mr. Francis George said the action would drag the party into controversy and put it under the shadow of suspicion among coalition partners. He said critical remarks from the Congress leaders proved that Mr. P.C. George had once again shown the party in a bad light. The action would be detrimental not only to the party but also to the UDF.
The BJP leaders came to the aid of Mr. P.C. George, saying the mass run was organised not by the party but by the trust. That a person like Mr. K.T. Thomas was heading the trust in Kerala showed that it was not a party organisation.
The organisers said waving of the T-shirt with Mr. Modi’s image had not been planned for the event. The T-shirts were brought there by a private agency who wanted to sell them on the occasion.