(MENAFN- IANS) Thiruvananthapuram, June 2 (IANS) After coming under attack over the issue of seeking sponsorships for sharing dais and food with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during his New York visit for inaugurating the 'Loka Kerala Sabha' -- a diaspora event next month, the CPI(M) on Friday staunchly defended it.
Top CPI(M) central committee member and a former state Minister A.K. Balan said, "What is wrong in seeking sponsorships to celebrate the diaspora event.
"It is surprising that the opposition opposes spending from the government coffers and also when sponsorships are sought. Similar sponsorships were sought when the event was previously held in London and in Dubai. This is an event for the Keralaites and there is nothing wrong in seeking sponsorships," said Balan.
"The Congress-led opposition is jealous that the stock of Vijayan is rising hugely and the diaspora is very happy to take part in it," added Balan.
Early this week, brochures of the event to be held in New York from July 9 to 11 showed that the local organisers have decided to raise sponsorship for the smooth conduct of the event and have issued three types of passes -- gold which will cost US $one lakh, silver- US $ 50,000 and Bronze US $ 25,000.
While those who buy gold and silver passes will be seated on the dais along with Vijayan and have dinner with the arriving VIPs, including the Chief Minister, state Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal, Assembly Speaker A.N. Shamseer, Norka vice chairman P. Sreeramakrishnan (former Speaker of the Kerala Assembly).
Meanwhile, the organisers of the event at New York, Manmadhan Nair said they expect a sum of over Rs five crore for the event. "We wanted to give our Chief Minister a rousing reception and hence we sought sponsorships. After the event gets over, the utilization of funds will be audited and will be made public," said Nair.
Veteran Congress legislator and former Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said, "No doubt sponsorship is a common practice in the US, but what we oppose is that this is a programme where the government is involved as it is organised by state run agency, Norka.
"In a government function and that too when the Chief Minister is taking part an entry ticket means to keep out those who cannot buy the tickets, and thus it becomes an event where only the cash rich can take part and that's what we oppose. It is a function that flaunts richness," said Chennithala.
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