In a fresh wave of controversy surrounding the Kerala government's mass outreach programme Nava Kerala Sadas, a political storm has erupted over the allegedly forced participation of school children in the public meetings of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other Ministers. The controversy began when a top educational authority in Malappuram district allegedly directed headmasters of state-run schools to ensure the attendance of students at the public meeting. This was later denied by the Education Department.
Ramesh Kumar KV, deputy director of Education in Malappuram, had issued an order announcing a provision for 10 students from each educational institution to attend Nava Kerala Sadas. CPI(M) leader K Anil Kumar denied any such directive from the Education Department. However, he argued that if children wished to meet the Chief Minister and other ministers during their visits, it should not be hindered.
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Student organisations such as the Muslim Student Federation opposed the move and even declared their intention to block school buses carrying children to the Sadas events.
Manoj Kumar, the president of the Congress-backed Kerala Pradesh School Teachers' Association (KPSTA) in Malappuram district, accused the government of cruelty to children, asserting that taking students away for such events would take away from their study time. He called for action against officers responsible for the disruption of the schedule of the students.
The controversy deepened further when a video surfaced from Thalassery, showing the students of the Lower Primary School in Chambad standing in the sun to greet the Chief Minister and other Ministers as they passed through the road. The video also showed teachers instructing the children to raise slogans.
In another incident, the Chief Minister was seen publicly criticising former Health Minister and MLA KK Shailaja for exceeding the time allowed to her to speak. The incident took place in Mattannur, Shailaja’s constituency, on Wednesday.
While addressing the crowd after Shailaja, the Chief Minister criticised CPI(M) central committee member Shailaja by saying, "Your MLA spoke more when she met you. I think she exceeded her time. As a result, the remaining time should be managed. This programme is only for two hours and we need to reach everywhere," CM Pinarayi said.