Political fronts spar over who gets ‘credit’ for Vizhinjam port

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan in a Facebook post emphasised the role played by Oommen Chandy and his government in making Vizhinjam port a reality.
Youth Congress activists install a hoarding at the entrance of the Vizhinjam port on Saturday, which reads ‘Oommen Chandy International Sea Port’ | Express
Youth Congress activists install a hoarding at the entrance of the Vizhinjam port on Saturday, which reads ‘Oommen Chandy International Sea Port’ | Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With barely hours remaining for the much-awaited official reception of the first ship to arrive at the Vizhinjam International Seaport on Sunday, the ruling and Opposition fronts engaged in a bitter slugfest over credit for the nearly three-decade-long port project.

While the UDF reiterated its demand to name the port after former chief minister Oommen Chandy, the LDF shot back saying it was a project initiated by the E K Nayanar government. 

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan in a Facebook post emphasised the role played by Oommen Chandy and his government in making Vizhinjam port a reality. “The then CPM secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had alleged Rs 6,000-crore worth of real estate deals and corruption in the Rs 5,000-crore project.

It’s the same Pinarayi Vijayan who is now going to town with the Vizhinjam Seaport. He had called it a lot of the sea. The package announced by Oommen Chandy for the fisherfolk has also been sabotaged by Pinarayi,” said Satheesan. 

Upping the ante, the Youth Congress on Saturday placed a board in front of the entrance of the   Vizhinjam port, symbolically naming it after Oommen Chandy. 

Left leadership rejects UDF’s demand

Led by state vice-president N S Nusoor, Youth Congress staged a protest gathering at the entrance of the port, and placed a board which read ‘Oommen Chandy International Sea Port’. Nusoor claimed that it was Chandy who made the project a reality. However, the Left leadership outrightly rejected the UDF demand. Mocking the UDF’s “claims”, CPM state secretary M V Govindan pointed out that the project was initiated during the time of the E K Nayanar government. 

“The initiative received a further boost during the time of the V S Achuthanandan government. The infrastructure work was completed during that time. However, it was the UDF government that awarded the contract to the Adani group. Otherwise, the running of the port would have remained with the government. The UDF played no major role in the project. They had, in fact, tried to sabotage the project under pressure from the then BJP government and handed it over to the Adani group. When protests began against the project, both the UDF and the BJP opposed the project, while it was the LDF which stood for the project,” he said.

LDF convener E P Jayarajan, meanwhile, appealed to the Leader of the Opposition not to create controversy at a time when the state is marking a major developmental milestone. 

“Some people are demanding that the port be named after Oommen Chandy. However, some others demand that it be named after K Karunakaran and Indira Gandhi. Isn’t it better to consider the name at a more appropriate time? The port construction picked up pace only in the last six years. The CPM was never against the project,” he said.

Though a section within the Latin Church was planning to keep away from the celebrations on Sunday, the government successfully overcame the move with its tactical approach. Following intervention by the government the church leadership withdrew its scheduled protest on Sunday.

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