The two-day 'Kerala Loka Sabha' that started in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday could well be an engine for the future growth of the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said inaugurating the first-of-its-kind event.
Held at the banquet hall of the state assembly, the event resembled a legislature in session.
There were 351 members, including 141 legislators, parliament members from the state and some 130 selected representatives of Kerala-based organisations from within and outside the country, taking part in the event.
Vijayan said: "This is the first event of its kind to be held in the country. This would be held once in two years.
"The discussions and deliberations that take place in the next two days, could well be an engine for the future growth of Kerala.
"This sabha could be the vital link..., as all through the past several decades, the contribution of the Kerala diaspora through their remittances turned out to be the lifeline for the state.
However, he said they had no avenue to air their views and it's here that this Sabha will come useful," said Vijayan.
Vijayan assured the gathering that all the discussions and debates that would take place in the event would be taken forward to its logical conclusion.
"For this to become an effective event, the parliament members from here should take them forward and seek the Centre's participation... The state alone will not be able to do it," added Vijayan.
Kerala Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan and a panel of seven members are coordinating the two-day event which includes panel discussions on Kerala's economy.
The deliberations and recommendations would be documented and serve as a ready reckoner when it comes to formulating decisions concerning the diaspora, it was said.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurian congratulated the Vijayan government for holding the event.
However, state BJP chief Kummanem Rajasekheran shot it down and said this was nothing but a meeting of "representatives of the CPI (M) party who have their organisations abroad".
"This can be said, as a meeting of CPI (M) well-wishers, as several respectable organisations from abroad who have been working among the Kerala diaspora, have been left out.
"Moreover, it should be noted that a few of the selected representatives even have cases registered against them by the CBI," said Rajasekheran.
Two members from Melbourne were found protesting in front of the state secretariat as they claimed their "very respectable and decades old Kerala diaspora organisation was not included".
"We only want to highlight that the selection process was faulty and we want it to be rectified," said Thiruvallam Bhasi and Varghese John.