Narendra Modi
Narendra ModiReuters

The famed Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, US, has cancelled Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's speech, following protests from some section of Wharton professors and students.

Modi was invited to deliver a keynote address at the 17th Wharton India Economic Forum 2013 in Philadelphia on 22-23 March 2013 via a video conference. On Sunday, the organizing committee of the forum announced that they have decided to drop Modi's name from the list of speakers at the forum, in the wake of opposition from some students and other stakeholders.

A section of students and professors were outraged over the invitation extended to Modi to speak at the event. In a strongly-worded letter to the management carrying 175 signatures, it was stated, "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."

Following protests, the committee cancelled Modi's speech and also apologized for putting the university and the Wharton School administration in a "difficult position," according to a report by the Press Trust of India.

They also said that they stand by their decision to invite Modi, but unfavorable reactions from several quarters have provoked them to take the decision. "Our team felt that the potential polarizing 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 especially in the spirit of our conference's purpose," the forum said in a statement.

The committee members said that they hope to invite Modi to interact with the students later some time when there is no such distraction. They also stated that Modi will be replaced by another prominent Indian leader, whose name will be released soon.

Some of the other eminent guests invited to the conference include - Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman; Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group; Milind Deora, the Union Minister of State for IT and Communications; Milind Deora, the Union Minister of State for IT and Communications; Dilip Cherian, Consulting Partner Perfect Relations; Atul Nishar, Chiarman of Hexaware Technologies and actress Shabana Azmi.