The Centre has justified the denial of permission to Kerala tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran to attend a tourism meet in China, indicating that proper protocol arrangements had not been made for him there.
The sole criteria was to ensure that people from the country were not "downgraded" in the country they were visiting, VK Singh, the minister of state for external affairs, told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. Since the prestige of the country was also at stake, it would not look good "if a junior official is meeting a minister", he added.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier termed the external affairs ministry's decision to deny permission to Kadakampally as "unfortunate". The CPM leader had been invited to attend the United Nations World Tourism Organisation meet in Chengdu held between September 11 to 16.
Speaking on the sidelines of an outreach programme on issues connected with migration, VK Singh explained the process of according political clearance for such visits and said the MEA seeks views of the Indian mission in that country.
"If we find correct protocol arrangements are not being made and relevant person of that level is not meeting our minister, we will not allow our minister to go. We are conscious that we do not want our people to be downgraded in the country in which they are visiting and that is the sole criteria," VK Singh pointed out.