The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi had held a video conference earlier this week to discuss the status of the on-going COVID-19 situation which has struck the country causing a nationwide lockdown. The video conference was the 4th such meeting held by the Prime Minister and the state Chief Ministers regarding the crisis and discussions on how to exit the lockdown as well as a possible extension. Many ministers had asked for economic relaxations in certain areas to allow some relief to the vulnerable sectors.
“Vijayan missed the Video Conference”
The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had abstained from attending this video conference stating that he had attended the earlier meetings. Further, he had been informed earlier by the Union cabinet secretary that due to the shortage of time, only nine Chief Ministers will be given the floor to voice their concerns and suggestions to the Prime Minister. As a result, the Chief Minister Vijayan deemed it futile to attend the meeting.
“Conference attended by Chief Secretary”
Kerala had been represented by Kerala’s Chief Secretary Tom Jose who asked Prime Minister Modi for a staggered exit as well as a COVID-19 package to be provided by the centre to the states. Kerala has also raised the issue of the returning migrant population from Middle Eastern countries and asked the centre to expedite the evacuation. As a result, Kerala was the only state that had not been represented directly by the state’s Chief Minister.
“BJP calls the decision ‘inappropriate“
This decision to not attend the meeting was heavily criticized by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) unit in Kerala as they opposed the communist leader. The BJP State Chief K. Surendran gave a statement resenting the Chief Minister’s absence during the video conference and stating it to be “inappropriate” on his part as the whole country was fighting the pandemic together.
“Kerala chief minister said he had attended the last meeting and hence he did not attend today’s meeting. However, most of the chief ministers, who attended the last meeting, had attended Monday’s meeting. While the whole country is fighting the pandemic together, his absence cannot be justified,” Surendran said in a statement.
The statement went on to criticize the failure of the Chief Minister to take an active part in the central government’s initiatives and efforts to coordinate and tackle the pandemic which has taken several lives in a short span of two months.
Kerala has been lauded by all leaders for the quick and effective actions taken by the state from the time the very first cases surfaced within the borders. The state has had the highest recovery rate and has been successful in flattening the curve. Further, it was one of the first states to start home delivery of dry ration and other essentials as the state had been under quarantine.
Given the presence of the state’s Chief Secretary and the shortage of time during the conference, the criticism given by the BJP unit directed at the administration seems more like a political jibe faining concern of negligence on part of the state government.