Kerala ministers’ foreign-fundraising-trip plans draw flak, ministers stick to stand

Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the ministers will visit foreign countries to raise funds to build a better Kerala.
Kerala ministers’ foreign-fundraising-trip plans draw flak, ministers stick to stand
Kerala ministers’ foreign-fundraising-trip plans draw flak, ministers stick to stand
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Two days before he left to the US for medical treatment, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had talked about the government’s mission to raise funds from around the world, to rebuild the state. State ministers will visit foreign countries, where Keralites live in large numbers, to raise funds to rebuild a better Kerala, the CM had said. However, the idea is drawing flak – especially from political rivals of the ruling CPI (M). Many have raised the argument that the expenses incurred by the exchequer because of these foreign trips, will be extravagant.

BJP Kerala state president, PS Sreedharan Pillai told TNM that the non-resident Keralites are already contributing to the distress relief fund – and the ministers’ visit will be akin to begging for money in another country.

“They had begun donating even before the government requested it. The decision to go abroad for seeking assistance is like sacrificing one’s self-esteem, similar to begging. It seems like the ministers would be going abroad as tourists since the assistance from abroad is already coming,” he said.

Pinarayi Vijayan left for America on Sunday. Minister for Industries EP Jayarajan, who will chair cabinet meetings in the absence of the CM, while responding to the criticism about the decision,  said that it won't be revoked. "More funds can be mobilised through the ministers’ visit. We are going to revive the state from the distress," he said.

The ministers will be in the flood hit regions from September 10 to 15. "The foreign trip will be after that," Jayarajan said.

Congress leader and former MLA PC Vishnunath however raised concern about coordination of post flood works in the absence of the ministers.

“The Chief Minister had gone for treatment, that is something we can’t object to. But who will coordinate the works if the ministers are also absent? My worry is that. Even the immediate financial assistance of Rs 1,000 to the flood hit people hasn’t been distributed to all. A portion of the fund has been mobilised, but even that hasn’t been utilised for the post floods work,” he said.

Vishnunath added, “Keralites living abroad are already donating, they will donate even without the ministers directly approaching them.”

However, Minister for Agriculture VS Sunil Kumar said that those who flay the decision are the ones who don’t exactly understand what the government decision is.

He said that prior to the ministers’ visit, a network of people who would like to donate will be formed. “How pitiful is it to view this as ministers visiting foreign countries as tourists? We are representatives of the government, and are utilising all possible ways to raise funds. It will be a boost for those who want to donate when they can directly interact with a government representative. A network of people who are willing to donate will be formed, by associating the members of Loka Kerala Sabha. The travel will be with a thorough plan. And about the expense, we will travel in economy class and won’t stay in five star hotels,” the minister said.

Sunil Kumar also countered the argument that the visit would lead to the administration coming to a standstill. “There is a well-built government machinery, and officials. It is not like we will all leave at once, leaving the state in a distress. We are disciplined and will work accordingly. Those who flay us on social media should try to understand the reality,” he said.

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