Congress, Left slam Centre’s denial of permission to minister Veena’s Kuwait visit

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said though he had strong opinion on the Centre’s decision, it was not the time to discuss and debate the issue.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George
Kerala Health Minister Veena George (File photo | B P Deepu)

KOCHI: The state government and the opposition have come out against the Union government for the denial of permission to Veena George, minister for health and family welfare in Kerala, to visit Kuwait to help with the relief efforts.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his cabinet colleagues, and Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan termed the Union government decision “unfortunate”. Of the 50 Indians who died following a fire at a six-storey building in Kuwait, 24 are Keralites.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George
Fire tragedy: Centre shoots down Kerala health minister Veena George's plan to visit Kuwait

The Union government’s denial of political clearance to the state health minister gives out a wrong message, Satheesan said.

“It is unfortunate that the health minister was denied political clearance to travel to Kuwait. The representatives of the Union government went early. We could have coordinated with the Malayalis in Kuwait had a state representative been there. The Union government should have facilitated the visit when the state government made such a decision. The union government is giving a wrong message through this,” he said, adding that there is a limitation in coordinating through the phone.

The decision to send Veena George to Kuwait’s Al-Mangaf was made in the cabinet meeting on Thursday. However, the ministry of external affairs refused to clear her visit.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said though he had strong opinion on the Centre’s decision, it was not the time to discuss and debate the issue.

“We will discuss this issue later. What is important now is to work together to help the families of the deceased. The Union government should take the initiative to coordinate with the Kuwait government to do the needful,” the chief minister said.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders in Kerala supported the Union government’s decision.

“The ministry of external affairs had sent a Union minister to Kuwait to coordinate the relief efforts. There was no need to send a minister from the state. The situation was under control. These are unnecessary controversies,” BJP state president K Surendran said.

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