HT interview: Governor adopting stand aimed at creating conflict, says Kerala CM | Latest News India


Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan blamed the Congress for the loss in assembly polls in three states saying they did not forge an alliance with other parties. He said governor Arif Mohammed Khan was nominating RSS persons in universities. In an interview to Vishnu Varma on the sidelines of the ongoing ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’ in Thrissur district, the CM also spoke about his party efforts for 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Edited excerpts

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan talks about his party efforts for 2024 Lok Sabha polls in an interview with HT. (PTI)
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan talks about his party efforts for 2024 Lok Sabha polls in an interview with HT. (PTI)

The ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’, the outreach programme of the LDF government as part of which the CM and the entire cabinet is touring all 140 Assembly constituencies of the state, has travelled through six districts so far and is in central Kerala now. What has been the experience so far?

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We had planned this programme to make people aware about the main issues that the state faces today and the attempts by the central government to halt the state’s development. What we are seeing is that the public are more aware about these things. There’s massive participation of the public at each of these meetings. The people are showing great interest in the state’s issues and our highlight is that they stand united.

The Congress has alleged that the CM directly interacts only with ‘invited eminent persons’ and not with the common man at these meetings. How do you respond?

It is their habit to make such allegations. People from all sections of society are attending our meetings. In our morning sessions, those who can relay problems and issues in different areas of society are participating. They are interacting with us about their problems. It is not exclusively open to an elite class. For example, a Haritha Karma Sena member participated. She is an ordinary labourer and she spoke. Another was a sanitation worker. A third was a Kudumbashree member. We are seeing that people from different walks of life are attending and talking about their experiences and opinions.

Also read- On Cong defeat in 3 states, Kerala CM blames ‘greed & lust for power’

Since this is a programme of the LDF government, and not of any party, the local MLAs are assuming presidentship of meetings in their constituencies. But the programme has been boycotted by the UDF and their MLAs are not participating. Has this adversely affected the events?

Clearly, their MLAs should have also taken part in these meetings. This is a government programme and Kerala’s issues are being presented and discussed. We had announced it in a way that they can and should participate as well. The events are Assembly constituency-wise and the organising responsibility falls on the local MLA there. So in all, 41 UDF MLAs must assume that responsibility. They boycotted the programme for reasons that no one can understand. But the attendance at the morning sessions show that some of their leaders (at the local level) are also cooperating with us. At the conventions, thousands who have clear political opinions, who love Kerala and who want the state to develop are attending. So, the absence of (opposition leadership) has not adversely affected the programme. UDF is not interested in the cause of Kerala. When there were instances of Centre ignoring our state, their 18 Lok Sabha MPs did not raise these issues in Parliament. They did not speak out against the Centre. Recently, we requested all MPs to meet the union finance minister and they agreed as well. But ultimately, they did not sign the memorandum we prepared. This is the kind of stand they adopt and we cannot understand it at all.

Will the results of the recently held Assembly elections have a direct effect on the Lok Sabha polls next year especially with the Congress losing three critical states in the Hindi heartland to the BJP?

Be it in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, the biggest mistake of the Congress is that it did not try to forge unity with other secular parties. Instead of cooperating with other parties, Congress was under the false impression that it can win on its own. In today’s circumstances, it was not right. We have to stand united to defeat the BJP. Congress had a narrow-minded approach that it can win alone. It was not right to keep away the Samajwadi Party in Madhya Pradesh. It was reported that the earlier offers given to SP (to contest seats) were violated. Kamal Nath reportedly did not accept (the alliance with) SP. The top Congress leadership also did nothing to intervene in the issue. If SP and other like-minded parties were included, the result in MP would have been different. Similarly, the Congress calculated that it would win in Rajasthan alone. It did not cooperate with secular parties there. An opportunity to defeat the BJP was thus wasted. Also, the Congress seemed to adopt the same methods of BJP while fighting that party. When Narendra Modi offers puja in Ayodhya, Kamal Nath also offered puja at his home to counter it. Kamal Nath also claimed to be a disciple of Hanuman. He also publicly said that the credit for the Ram temple belonged to Rajiv Gandhi. This way, Kamal Nath became the leader of the ‘B’ team of the BJP by repeating their claims in a different way. There were also fights between different factions of the party like Gehlot and Pilot in Rajasthan and Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh in MP. So, Congress must understand that all secular, like-minded parties must unite to defeat the BJP.

How is the CPI(M) preparing for the Lok Sabha elections next year and what issues are likely to be discussed in the state?

CPM’s electoral strategies will be decided later. But what we intend to say (in the campaign) is that Kerala’s voice must resound within Parliament in the right way. Only when there were Left MPs were the demands of the state raised in the two Houses. That’s one aspect. What we have seen here is the reluctance of the 18 UDF MPs to openly expose the wrong policies of the BJP government at the national level. If the unique character of Kerala is to be reflected, if the right approach is to be taken on important secular issues, then LDF MPs have to be there in Parliament from the state. Over the last five years, the 18 UDF MPs have done nothing to raise the needs of the state and get them fulfilled.

There has been a long-standing tussle between the state government and the Governor. Recently, the Governor sent 7 of the 8 bills passed by the Assembly to the President. Governor Khan has alleged that the CM is not visiting the Raj Bhavan personally and not clarifying his doubts on the bills. What do you intend to do to resolve this tussle?

The Governor’s position is generally to assist in the governance of the state. But he (Governor Arif Mohammed Khan) is adopting a stand aimed at creating conflict in the state. It’s unfortunate. In universities, the Chancellor has to nominate the members of the senate. Usually, the persons nominated are those from the panel recommended by the university. In Kerala and Calicut universities, he has not included anyone from the names recommended from the panel. He is getting some information from outside and working according to it. The persons he nominated were those connected to the RSS. He cannot do that as it is aimed at shattering the peaceful atmosphere in the state. The Centre should not encourage such moves as well and must ask the Governor to withdraw from such actions. We have legally questioned the moves of the Governor and we will see what more can be done.

Also read: Governors can’t sit on bill to thwart process of lawmaking, says SC

Kerala is in a grave financial state and has alleged discriminatory attitude on the part of Centre in clearing its dues. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has countered the charges and said that there is no proposal to relax the existing terms for borrowing capacity of states including Kerala. How do you react?

We have not demanded that Kerala be given special treatment. We have only said that the rightful dues that the state deserves should be paid. Kerala must not be targeted on the basis of the achievements it has been able to make. The rightful dues have not been paid in connection with GST dividends and grants on revenue deficit. Such steps should not have been made by the Centre and must be rectified. There cannot be one rule for the Centre and another for the state. When the national highway authority borrows money, it is not seen as the Centre borrowing funds, but when KIIFB borrows, it is seen as debt of the state government. That’s not right. When the firm formed to pay social welfare pensions of the state government takes out a loan, it should not ideally be seen as a loan of the state. So, the Centre seems to be doing a lot of research on how to minimise the revenues flowing into the hands of the state. It’s not right.

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