Washington: The prestigious Wharton school on Monday cancelled the keynote address of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi following uproar from a section of university professors and students on the invitation.
    
The organizing committee of the prestigious annual event apologized for putting the university and the Wharton School administration in a "difficult position". It said Modi's address would be replaced by a prominent Indian leader, whose name would be released very soon.

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But standing by its decision to invite Modi for the event, the organizing committee hoped to invite him later some time without causing such a distraction as it has done now.

"Mr Modi's keynote address at Wharton India Economic Forum has been cancelled," the Wharton India Economic Forum said in a statement. Modi was invited to deliver the keynote address at the Forum to be held in Philadelphia on March 22-23 via videoconference.  
    
"We hope to have Mr Modi speak at a more appropriate forum where he can interact with students without the distraction of this kind of attention," the statement said. A group of Wharton's professors and students had written a strongly-worded letter saying they are outraged to learn that the Forum has invited Modi as a keynote speaker.

The letter noted, "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."

Montek likely to address on March 23

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is expected to address the Forum on March 23.
    
"With all the chosen speakers across multiple keynotes and panels, our goal as a team is to provide a neutral platform to encourage cross pollination of ideas as we all work towards contributing to India's success. Through this ideology, we hope to present multiple opinions and ideas to our audiences and supporters across the world and constructively contribute to the intellectual milieu for which University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School stand," the statement said.

(Agencies)

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