As Kerala's Finance Minister presented the budget for 2018-2019 on Friday, the Left MLAs erupted in applause when Rs 10 crore was allotted towards building a memorial in the memory of the Communist leader AK Gopalan.
However, it appears that the move has not gone down well with Congress MLA VT Balram. While Opposition leader and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had slammed the LDF government's budget, calling it "impractical," and lacking in measures to tackle financial crisis, MLA Balram's criticism was directed at the Rs 10 Crore allocation to build a memorial for AKG.
Interestingly, the young MLA had stirred up a hornet's nest earlier in January this year, when he hit out at Communist icon and leader of opposition in the first Lok Sabha AKG. The Congress MLA had insinuated that AKG was a pedophile, for having fallen in love with his wife Susheela, who was several years younger to him.
His comments had earned him much ire from the CPI (M), who even boycotted public meetings attended by the MLA in his constituency Thrithala of Palakkad district.
Taking to Facebook on Friday evening, Congress MLA Balram questioned the intention behind allotting such a huge sum of money for AKG memorial.
"Apart from that, another Rs 10 crore has been allotted for Punnapra-Vayalar memorial too. A sitting government is well within its limits to do so, but at a time when the state is facing financial crisis, the government must explain the intention behind this move to the people," MLA Balram wrote.
Hinting at his tussle with the Communist party regarding his statements on AKG, Balram wrote:
"Everybody knows what is behind the sudden spurt of love for AKG. CPI (M) must keep its false pride away and the government and the Finance Minister must rethink this decision. If you had declared any welfare schemes on the lines of EMS housing scheme, how nice it would have been! But you have chosen to approach it politically and follow the Modi model, of building memorials for Patel and Shivaji. It is highly disappointing."
MLA Balram went on to question why land allotted by the government decades ago for the purpose of building a research centre based on AKG's work, was instead made into CPI (M) committee office.
'This is not the first time the state government is trying to set up a memorial for AKG. The CPI (M) had put forward that demand soon after his death and in 1977, the then AK Antony government had allotted 34.4 acres of land for free in Vanchiyoor. The intention was clear in the Government Order, that the land was to be used to build a study and research centre based on AKG's works. But the party built their committee office on this land and other than one library that functions in the building in the name of AKG, there's nothing to indicate that any useful research is happening there," he said.
Balram went on to say that the party must clarify what research and development activities have taken place out of the library and what academic events were organised in the past forty years. He said that the CPI (M) party office must be vacated from the building and instead, it must be converted into a research centre.