Bengaluru: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was heading an all-party state delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday after four unsuccessful attempts. However, non-BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) parties in Kerala were furious with the centre’s decision to reject most of the demands of the state government, barring the creation of a task force on flood relief.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, leader later told journalists in Delhi that the meeting had left him disappointed, a sentiment which was shared by Ramesh Chennithala, the Congress Kerala unit chief, in an unusual show of support. In a Facebook post, Vijayan also listed out the demands by the Kerala government and the centre’s response. “He (Modi) did not give a clear answer to any of the problems presented before him," he said.
The centre refused to entertain two major demands, including an increase in the state’s share of foodgrain from the centre to address the shortage created by the introduction of the National Food Securities Act (NFSA), and the construction of a coach factory in Palakkad district of the state, a demand that was raised in 2008 but is yet to take off.
Modi, however, promised to send relief teams to tackle the floods and asked Union minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, to visit the state on Wednesday, according to a statement by the Kerala CM’s office. The PM also promised to set up a new railway line to Sabarimala.
Modi told the state delegation that it was not possible to provide the state with more foodgrain, besides its allocated share as per the NFSA norms, Vijayan said on Facebook. On the coach factory project, Modi said new coach factories were not needed for the railways at present.
Kerala was also keen to take over Hindustan Newsprints Ltd, the ailing central public sector unit in the state, which will soon be put on the block. Chennithala said that Modi asked the state government to take part in the bidding process like other private companies.
In response to Vijayan’s statements, BJP Kerala unit leader A.N. Radhakrishnan said the CM did not prepare enough for the meeting to get the state’s demands approved and questioned the intention of not including Kerala BJP leader and minister of state for tourism, Alphons Kannanthanam.
Kannanthanam, in a televised press conference in Delhi, said Modi had asked him why he was not part of the all-party delegation, to which he said that he was not invited. He, however, added that he had nothing against Vijayan.