THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has forcefully rejected the false claims being made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the Centre’s financial assistance to the State Government.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a strongly-worded statement at the Nava Kerala Sadas, currently in Kozhikode district, said that the Minister was trying to cover up the Union Government’s flaws by making false claims about its financial assistance to the State.
The Chief Minister listed the details of the funds withheld by the Centre on various occasions in the past. To cite a specific instance, the CM said the Centre’s contributions towards social security schemes, estimated at Rs 579 crore, had not been allotted on time to support Kerala.
Nirmala Sitharaman had claimed while she was in the State recently that ‘not one rupee’ had been held back by the Centre from the funds due to the State Governments. She said no arrears are pending in the case of social security pensions. A sum of Rs 602.14 crore had been released in October 2023. The money was released as soon as Kerala made the request.” The Minister was trying to state that Kerala had delayed making the requests!
The Kerala Chief Minister has denied delaying the request from the State’s side. The boot, he said, was on the other leg. The Centre cleared the arrears only recently after delaying its release for more than three-and-a-half years! As a result of the Centre’s dilatory tactics, the cash-strapped State had to use its own limited funds to support the beneficiaries. Out of the 64 lakh pensioners in the State, nearly 90 per cent were not getting any central aid in their pension, the chief Minister pointed out. Laxity was also evident, he said, in the central allotment for schemes for differently abled, senior citizens and paddy farmers.
Referring to Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that the State Government had not submitted its detailed project proposals despite being requested to do so, Pinarayi said the claim was a clear attempt to mislead the public and putting the blame on the State. The reality, he added, was that Kerala’s finance minister K N Balagopal had called on the union Finance Minister many times and submitted the details of requirements. This is besides the requests made by Members of Parliament of the Left Democratic Front.
This is in glaring contrast with the fact that the 19 Congress MPs from Kerala have adopted a totally unhelpful attitude in the matter by refusing to raise in Parliament Kerala’s legitimate demands and financial needs and protest against the Centre’s hostile attitude towards the State. The unkindest cut was that these MPs had even refused to sign a memorandum submitted by the State Government to the Centre for addressing the pressing development concerns, the CM claimed.
The Chief Minister also regretted that the UDF MLAs failed to chair the Nava Kerala Sadas in the 41 Assembly constituencies they represented. By refusing to join the Government in giving a boost to developmental activities, the Congress and the UDF led by it are insulting the people of the State, he averred. This was nothing but negative politics of first order.
The Chief Minister accused the Modi Government of trying to strangle Kerala because the State had refused to subscribe to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s agenda. A left government is in power only in Kerala. Some people are in a mood to adjust to the RSS agenda being implemented by the Centre. But Kerala would not do that, the CM said.
The Centre was also trying to usurp the State’s powers. The denial of permission for an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Kozhikode in Kerala was cited as an example of the anti-Kerala attitude of the Union Government. The establishment of an AIIMS would give a tremendous boost to the State in the health sector. But although the State had been pressing its claims for an AIIMS, the Centre has not given the green signal so far.
The Chief Minister also attributed the Centre’s unhelpful attitude to Kerala’s implementation of alternative policies. The State is taking a different attitude towards issues of communalism, divisive politics, etc compared with the Centre.
The tremendous success and popularity of the Nava Kerala Sadas has clearly unnerved the Congress and the BJP. Hence their concerted attempts to discredit it by making false allegations. But, to their utter chagrin, even local bodies ruled by the Congress and the BJP are supporting the LDF Government’s public outreach programme. Heads of a few local government bodies under the control of Congress are being threatened with action when they declared their intent to cough up funds for the Nava Kerala Sadas. Even a BJP leader belonging to a panchayat controlled by that party came out openly supporting the good work being done by the Pinarayi Government. There cannot be a better proof of the popularity and acceptance of the Government’s initiative which is earning praise from other States like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The Congress and the BJP would do well to emulate the example of senior BJP leader from Kerala O. Rajagopal, who attended the Keraleeyam session of the LDF Government. The veteran BJP leader was all praise for the Government’s welcome initiative and said good work done by the Kerala Government should be supported! (IPA Service)