T’PURAM/NEW DELHI: Taking a cue from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his cabinet colleague Mohamed Riyas on Wednesday took potshots at Union ministers saying they should count the potholes on national highways instead of posing for pictures near projects awaiting inauguration.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s three-day visit to Thiruvananthapuram had drawn flak from Pinarayi who alleged “political motivation” aimed at the 2024 Lok Sabha elections behind the trip.
Public works minister Riyas, while replying to questions in the state assembly, targeted Jaishankar’s deputy V Muraleedharan.
There are more potholes on National Highways in the state than the number of press conferences a Union minister, who was born in Kerala, has been holding, Riyas said. He said the issue of potholes remained unsettled despite being brought to the notice of Muraleedharan several times.
Muraleedharan scoffed at Riyas’s remarks saying “he should first see the PWD roads in Kerala that have come under flak from the High Court which wondered whether the roads are being constructed with gum. His notion that if he speaks about the NH roads, people will forget about the PWD roads is wrong,” the Union minister said.
Earlier, Riyas informed the assembly that state bears 25% of the compensation towards land acquisition for NH development. No other state in the country has come forward to share 25% of the burden. The house also saw a verbal duel between Riyas and the Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan, who accused the minister of provoking the Opposition when it is cooperating with land acquisition. However, Riyas retalited by wondering when he was criticising BJP, which doesn’t have a single member in the house, why was Satheesan feeling hurt.
Meanwhile, state BJP president K Surendran said “if national highways are full of potholes, PWD roads are stretches of ponds.” He claimed that the Narendra Modi government has made a budgetary allocation of `65,000 crore for the development of national highways in Kerala. “Of that, the work on projects worth Rs 35,000 crore has started,” he said in Kasaragod. “Never in its history has Kerala been granted so many projects,” he added.