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UDF MP's lunch with PM Modi triggers a row

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 10 (PTI) UDF MP N K Premachandran's lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has triggered a political row in Kerala with the ruling CPI(M) taking a dig at him pointing out his "closeness" with the PM.

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The Kollam MP was among the parliamentarians, selected from different parties, with whom PM Modi had lunch at the Parliament canteen on Friday.

While Premachandran justified his accepting the invitation from the PMO saying it was a friendly meeting beyond politics, senior CPI(M) leader and Finance Minister K N Balagopal made fun of him saying that he might have gone as he was so close to the PM.

Senior Marxist party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem and LDF Convenor E P Jayarajan also slammed Premachandran's gesture.

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However, 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.

Hailing 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, Modi shared his life experiences, about his daily routine, the days during the tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister and so on, Premachandran further said.

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"Beyond politics, it was a personal meeting...and a new experience in life," he added.

When reporters sought his reaction over the matter, Balagopal said in a lighter vein that Premachandran was invited by the PM for lunch as Modi 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.

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"What should I say about the meeting for lunch? It was because of the trust (between the duo)," he said with a smile.

Balagopal also accused the UDF MPs including Premachandran of raising questions in Parliament in a way that strengthens the arguments by the Centre against the state government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lunch with some MPs belonging to different parties at the Parliament canteen on Friday.

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BJD leader Sasmit Patra, RSP leader N K 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 Modi as they had lunch together.

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." Parliament's Winter session ended on Saturday.

It is the last session of Parliament before the Lok Sabha elections, expected in April-May. PTI LGK SS

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