THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Both LDF and UDF have urged the Centre to facilitate the return of Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) to the state at the earliest. Your views. The LDF and UDF are raising the NRK issue as a political tool deliberately at a time when the state is battling Covid-19. Even if the Centre agrees to bring back expatriates who want to return, we may be able to bring only 4,000 to 5,000 people every day. Assuming that around 3 lakh expats want to come back, it will take nearly two months to complete the process. So bringing back expats at this juncture is impractical.
What is the solution possible to this imbroglio?
The BJP has taken a clear stance on the matter. Once the lockdown is lifted, people who are stranded abroad as their visa expired, pregnant women and people needing medical attention—except for Covid-19 — can be brought back. But creating panic among NRKs and attempting to bring them back all of a sudden will create a huge social fallout in the state.
What are the alternatives that can be explored?
The focus now should be on providing medicines and quarantine facilities to NRKs in countries where they are stationed. The state government, the Centre and the Indian embassies concerned should jointly chalk out a strategy to help them. Also, clear priorities should be laid down on what category of people should be brought back when lockdown restrictions are eased.
The BJP has accused the CPM of politicising community kitchens.
In many places, community kitchens have failed totally. Besides, the CPM has converted such kitchens, set up using state funds, into party affairs. We will lodge a strong protest against deriving political mileage from such initiatives during the time of a crisis. The BJP, on the other hand, has already provided nearly 12 lakh provision kits, 3.82 lakh food packets and 1.73 lakh masks to all sections of society.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has been accusing the Centre repeatedly of not providing enough funds to the state. Your thoughts.
The Centre has given Rs 2,000 each to 26 lakh farmers in the state. Lakhs of people have also benefited from the PM Jan Dhan and other Central schemes. The LDF Government, on the other hand, harps on its own `20,000 crore package. If Isaac was sincere, he should have given at least `5,000 to around 70,000 poor families whose livelihoods have been lost. It would amount to `3,500 crore and would have benefited a lot of poor people.