By Sanu George
Politically he doesn’t agree with the prime minister but Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is happy that Narendra Modi helped evacuate Keralites from troubled spots in the Middle East.
Asked to sum up one year of Modi’s rule at the head of the union government, Chandy expressed appreciation for all the assistance provided by New Delhi vis-a-vis Keralites in Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
Chandy said that, in contrast to other opposition parties, that there were cordial centre-state relations with Modi at the helm.
“We will always speak about differences of opinion on issues. But the central government did help us when it came to evacuating our nurses from Iraq, Libya and Yemen,” the chief minster said in a brief interview.
More than 1,000 Kerala nurses were flown out of the three countries starting from June last year after violence erupted in all three places, putting their lives in danger.
Chandy visited New Delhi a few times for this and interacted with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The last of the Keralites returned in April this year. For this too, the central government sent additional aircraft as well as naval and two passenger ships to evacuate Indians from Yemen.
The chief minister also said the central government’s decision on providing viability gap funding for the proposed Vizhinjam port had been appreciated in Kerala. This is the first time in India when New Delhi agreed to pump in about Rs.800 crore as viability gap funding for a port project.
But Chandy said there were other issues on which the Modi government could be faulted.
Citing an example, he said Modi’s biggest campaign pledge during the Lok Sabha election was to bring down the prices of food and other essential commodities.
“One has to look at the international oil prices and see what’s happening,” he said.
“Oil prices are climbing here, like never before. As everyone knows, the price of oil is directly linked to the increase in prices. Was he able to do anything on this front?”
Another major election promise by Modi related to the poor and farmers when he said that their lot would be transformed within a year, the Congress leader said. “After a year, see what has happened.
“The poor have been let down badly. The farmer’s plight is no better. In the name of development, he has forgotten the poor and the farmers and the biggest beneficiary of his plans are the big corporates,” said Chandy.
What about Modi’s style of governance?
Chandy said the disbanding of the Planning Commission, which had existed since 1952, was baffling.
“A year later, it seems the government is groping in the dark about the new body (NITI Aayog) that has replaced the Commission. No one knows what’s happening,” he said.