Thiruvananthapuram: The central government on Monday alleged that the ‘extravagance and lavishness’ of the ruling Left administration in Kerala were responsible for the state’s financial crisis and not any policies of the Centre.
Union Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan asked whether Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ‘was a fool or playing a fool to mislead the public on the issue’.
Muraleedharan also claimed that the CM and state Finance Minister K N Balagopal always cited different figures of the funds not given by the Centre.
“You are the Chief Minister of Kerala. Either you should not be a fool or you should not play the fool to mislead the public. Both are wrong. The Kerala CM should be aware of the laws of the country. He should also be aware of the financial situation of the state,” the MoS contended.
His response comes a day after Balagopal alleged discrimination by the Centre towards Kerala and other opposition-ruled states in financial matters and said that the state will explore legal remedies against the same.
Balagopal, speaking to reporters in Kollam on Sunday, had said that the BJP-ruled Centre was being ‘hugely discriminatory’ towards opposition-ruled states, including Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, in financial matters.
“Of them, the most discrimination is being faced by Kerala. We are exploring legal remedies against this action of the Centre,” he had said.
Hitting back at the Left government, Muraleedharan claimed that various allocations and grants, including the Centre’s share in welfare pensions, that Kerala was to get from the central government have already been given.
He also questioned why the state did not request for the next installment of the welfare pension if it was in a financial crisis.
At the same time, the MoS also alleged that some grants like around Rs 750 crore from the UGC as part of salary reforms, were not given due to the mismanagement of the state administration.
He claimed that in some cases the request for grant or funds were not sent on time or not sent at all due to non-adherence to the mandatory guidelines.
An amount of Rs 1,925 crore as special assistance to capital investment was not given to the state as it has not yet submitted the mandatory compliance reports, Muraleedharan said.
Furthermore, the state has failed to collect taxes of over Rs 7,000 crore according to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, he claimed.
Balagopal had claimed that tax collection was being carried out effectively in the state.
Muraleedharan said that every time someone questions the alleged extravagance and lavish spending of the state government and the holding of Keraleeyam celebrations at huge expenditure, the Left regime blames the Centre’s policies for the same.
“If the state ends its extravagance and carries out proper financial management, Kerala’s financial situation would improve. Instead, if they think they can go to Delhi and sit in dharna and fool the people of Kerala that way, then they should know that the people of the state will not suffer this conduct for long,” the MoS contended.
On Friday, November 10, the LDF announced that it was going to hold an agitation in New Delhi in January next year, to highlight the challenges faced by the state on the financial front due to what the CPI(M)-led alliance alleges as the Centre’s negligence.
LDF Convenor E P Jayarajan had said that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his cabinet colleagues, Left MLAs, MPs, and other leaders, would participate in the protest.
This move is seen as shoring up the LDF’s political narrative against the BJP-led NDA in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
(Published 13 November 2023, 09:20 IST)