Accusing the Centre of discriminating against Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said denying permission to ministers from the state to go abroad for raising funds for flood relief works was the latest example of its bias.
Denying permission to the ministers and other stands taken by the Centre regarding flood relief works could only be seen as “moves” against Kerala, Mr Vijayan, who returned today morning after a five-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told reporters.
Charging the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with discriminating against Kerala, the chief minister said the Centre should not create hurdles for any state.
Noting that disasters had struck other states also, he said when Gujarat was hit by natural calamities, permission was granted for accepting foreign aid.
“If Kerala was allowed to take assistance from other countries, it would have been able to raise a huge amount. But the central government did not allow it,” he said.
“It was in continuation of this stand that the Centre turned down the plea of the state to send its ministers abroad to mobilise funds from expatriates,” Mr Vijayan added.
He further said it was no secret that the UAE government had promised a Rs. 700-crore aid for flood relief works in Kerala. Following his visit, the state was hoping that it would be able to mobilise much more assistance, the chief minister said.
The issue of acceptance of aid from the UAE had triggered a row, with the Centre deciding not to accept it for relief work, even as the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the opposition Congress in Kerala had come out against the government’s move.
While the Centre had approved Mr Vijayan’s foreign trip, it had declined permission to 17 of the 20 ministers from Kerala, who had also planned to visit different countries in the Gulf and Europe to mobilise funds.
Kerala had suffered massive damage in the torrential rains that lashed the state in August, claiming 493 lives and leaving a trail of destruction.