I am no Modi replacement: Kejriwal

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 06, 2013 18:48 hrs

While Narendra Modi's abortive Wharton address kicked up a storm, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, who is another speaker via video conference in the same event at India Economic Forum hosted by the Wharton Business School, said he is not a replacement for Modi but was contacted by the organisers much ahead of the present row.

"Mr Modi´s cancellation has nothing to do with my address," said Kejriwal on Tuesday.

Kejriwal said is among the panelists on day two of the 17th Wharton India Economic Forum and he would speak on public policy.

Earlier on Monday, the Adani Group has withdrawn its sponsorship of the event after the U.S. institution cancelled Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi´s keynote speech.

The move was seen as an apparent show of loyalty to Modi who rules the state where the conglomerate is headquartered.

Wharton confirmed that the Adani Group had decided it would no longer be a "platinum sponsor".

Earlier Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu on Monday decided to cancel his address at the Wharton Indian Economic Forum following the decision taken by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to cancel a keynote address by Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Narendra Modi.

"Wharton´s move is an insult to India," Prabhu said.

The Shiv Sena leader is a member of the India Economic Forum at Wharton.

Pertinently, Shiv Sena is a key ally of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Criticising the decision taken by the institution, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon, tweeted,"Wharton India Forum: No blow to Modi but a blot on Indian student organisers - most unprofessional for not being aligned."

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has cancelled a keynote address by Modi following an outrage by a group of professors and students over the Indian leader´s political past.

The organisers said in a statement that while they stood by the decision to invite Modi, adverse reactions from among the stakeholders involved had prompted the decision.

"Our team felt that the potential polarising reactions from sub-segments of the alumni base, student body and our supporters might put Mr Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all costs," the statement said.

"We do not endorse any political views and do not support any specific ideology. Our goal as a team is only to stimulate valuable dialogue on India´s growth story," it said.

Modi had been chosen to deliver a keynote address via video conferencing at the Wharton´s "India Economic Forum", the annual student-run conference hosted by the Wharton School.

The school´s website had featured Modi along with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and industrialists like Gautam Adani.

However, a group of Wharton´s professors and students wrote a strongly-worded letter saying they were outraged to learn that Modi had been invited as a speaker.

"This is the same politician who was refused a diplomatic visa by the United States State Department on March 18, 2005 on the ground that he, as Chief Minister, did nothing to prevent a series of orchestrated riots that targeted Muslims in Gujarat," their letter said.

Modi recently addressed the students at the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in New Delhi.

The students of the college conducted an internal poll and selected Modi as the speaker at the event.

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