MLAs' Study Trip to Modi's Surat Red-Flagged
By Cithara Paul - NEW DELHI
Published: 08th Dec 2013 09:48:44 AM
A “study trip” to Gujarat to see for themselves “better urban management practices in the country” has landed 11 Kerala legislators in the bad books of their respective party bosses, who could only see the Modi model at work again, this time to use them as pawns in his political game plan.
For the central leaderships of both the Congress and CPI(M), nothing could be more sacrilegious than acknowledging the Modi model of development, that too during election time. The MLAs, all members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly Subject Committee on Local Administration, Rural Development and Housing, had on the last week of November decided to study urban management practices in the country. And on their tour itinerary was a day-trip on December 12 to Surat, which has an efficient waste management system in place. However, they had not reckoned with the wrath of the party bosses who on Friday told them in no uncertain terms to keep Gujarat out of the scheme of things.
While the Congress leadership has sought an explanation from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat is learnt to have raised the matter with state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. “It is only natural for the national leadership to question this if the state leaders commit such follies without realising the national implications in election year,’’ said a Union minister from the state who is learnt to have brought the matter to the notice of the Central leadership.
According to him, the leadership was aware of Narendra Modi’s plan to use the visit of Congress and Communist MLAs to his state. “Do you think an astute politician like Modi will let go of such an opportunity?” asked the minister.
He said the matter was discussed when Chandy went to Delhi recently. “The CM was not in the loop but assured that Congress MLAs will not be part of the Gujarat trip,” said the minister.
The trip was similarly questioned by the Comrades in Delhi too.
“It is wrong to say the party general secretary asked them to cancel the trip as our MLAs were not going on their own and were merely part of a committee. But our comrades decided to back out because of their political conviction,” said a CPI (M) national leader.
Apart from Congress Minister K C Joseph who chairs the committee, the panel included Muslim League MLA and state urban development minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali, panchayat minister M K Muneer and finance minister K M Mani and MLAs K Achuthan (Congress), C Mammootty (Muslim League), PTA Rahim (Independent), V Sivankutty, P Sreeramakrishnan (CPI-M)), K V Vijayadas (CPI-M)) and E K Vijayan (CPI).
One of the Congress members in the committee admitted that they were pulled up by the leadership but insisted that the decision to exclude Surat was their own.
“We decided to cancel the Surat trip as we felt that it would be playing into the hands of BJP who would publicise our visit as an advertisement for the Modi model development,” he said.
However, not everyone is happy with the cancellation.
“We decided to visit Surat as it has one of the best waste management plants in the country. It was important to know about its functioning as in Kerala we talk about waste management only during the annual outbreak of Chikungunya,’’ said E K Vijayan of CPI.
According him, the trip was cancelled as “somebody in Delhi played dirty politics and we did not want to be used by the BJP”.
“But the controversy was unnecessary and we lost a chance to see how a better system works. It is a loss to the entire state,” he added.
A Congress MLA too said the party made a big blunder by cancelling the trip. “The Surat plant was actually built when Gujarat was ruled by the Congress with the support of the Congress in the Centre. They could have used this opportunity to counter Modi’s development claims. But sadly our leadership does not have this foresight,” said the MLA.
Now the Kerala team will be visiting Chennai, Chandigarh, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi to study waste management.
“If Modi ever becomes the PM will we all leave the country or what?” asked the Congress MLA recollecting another occasion when a minister in the Chandy Cabinet had to apologise for meeting Modi during a function.
Similarly, CPI(M) had expelled young MP A P Abdullakutty for talking highly about Modi’s development work in Gujarat. It is another story that the party leadership was just waiting for an opportunity to expel the rebel leader who was close to V S Achuthanandan and seized the “Modi opportunity” to expel him.
“This kind of Modi phobia will only help in making Modi look larger than life,” said a Left MLA who recounted the episode when the party opposed the Tourism Ministry’s proposal to make Amitabh Bachchan its brand ambassador just because he happens to be the campaigner for Gujarat tourism too.