Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Modi-Vijayan meet in Delhi creates a war of words in Kerala

Bengaluru: After denying a meeting four times in a row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Kerala chief minister PInarayi Vijayan, who was heading an all-party delegation, only to reject most of the demands put forward by the state except for a task force on flood relief, leaving the non-BJP parties in Kerala furious. The meeting has created a war of words between BJP in Kerala and Vijayan’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPM.

Vijayan later told television journalists in Delhi that the meeting has left him disappointed, a sentiment which was shared by Congress’ opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala in an unusual show of support. “He did not give a clear response to any of the problems presented," said Vijayan. In a Facebook post, Vijayan listed out of the demands Kerala set forth and the Centre’s response to them.

The Centre rejected two major demands of the state-- an increase in the share of food grains from the Centre, to fill the shortage made by the recent introduction of Centre’s National Food Securities Act, and construction of a coach factory in Palakkad district, a sort of high profile project in Kerala that was proposed in 2008 but is yet to take off. However, Modi promised to send relief teams to tackle the floods and union minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, will visit the state on Wednesday, as per Vijayan’s office.

On the food share, Modi said he cannot give anything more than the share allocated to states as per the NFSA, Vijayan said on Facebook. On the coach factory project, Modi told the state delegation that he thinks no new coach factories are not needed for the railways at present, he said.

But, the PM promised immediate help from the Centre on the current flood situation in Kerala and also agreed to set up a meeting on a new railway line to pilgrim center Sabarimala, said Vijayan.

Kerala was also keen to take over an ailing central public sector unit in the state, Hindustan Newsprints Limited, kept for disinvestment. But Modi, said Chennithala, asked the state to take part in the bidding process like 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 not inviting to meet BJP leader and Kerala’s sole representative in the union cabinet, minister of state for tourism, Alphons Kannanthanam.

Kannanthanam, in a televised press conference in Delhi, said Modi asked why he did not come with the all-party delegation, to which he had to respond that he was not invited. However, Kannanthanam said, he has no complaints against the chief minister.

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Updated: 19 Jul 2018, 10:46 PM IST
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