December 10, 2023
Nava Kerala Sadas: Meeting the Masses Directly, LDF Cabinet Receives Opinions of People

A Neelambaran

NAVA Kerala Sadas, the public outreach programme of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, began on November 18 in Kasargod district. As of December 5, it has reached 50 per cent of the 140 assembly constituencies. The entire cabinet, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, will conclude the outreach programme on December 23 in Thiruvananthapuram.

Aimed at bringing the cabinet closer to the grassroots, the outreach programme has been experiencing a significant turnout of people in every constituency. Various departments of the Kerala government are establishing special counters at the venues, catering to differently-abled people, women, and senior citizens for registering their complaints. As part of the programme, citizens can track the status of their complaints through a dedicated website.

The government of Kerala is actively collecting feedback directly from the people of the state regarding the progress of development initiatives, existing challenges, and aspirations for a more modern state in the future. At each venue, the chief minister and three cabinet ministers are addressing the audience, highlighting the achievements of the LDF government in recent years and discussing challenges arising from the union government's indifferent stance towards Kerala's development.

The day starts with a breakfast meeting of the cabinet with renowned industrialists, agriculturalists, farmers, accomplished individuals, workers from diverse sectors, and members of civil society from the assembly segments covered on that particular day. During these sessions, participants are expressing their views on potential initiatives such as launching new enterprises, promoting small-scale industries, boosting tourism, addressing infrastructure needs, and other specific possibilities and demands.

On a daily basis, an average of four assembly segments are covered, with the respective MLAs presiding over the meeting and the chief minister, accompanied by at least three ministers, addressing the gathering.

Pinarayi Vijayan explains the aspirations of the state across different sectors, emphasizing the commitment to substantial public spending on infrastructure development. Despite the constraints imposed by the BJP-led union government, including limits on borrowing and reduced revenue shares for the state, Kerala remains dedicated to providing welfare pensions for those in need. The state has better human development indices (HDI) compared to the national average, along with a better health infrastructure and public school system.

Condemning the union government for choking the government of Kerala by constraining Kerala's financial resources through diminished revenue shares and borrowing limits, Pinarayi Vijayan strongly criticised the BJP government's approach towards non-BJP ruled states. He assured the people of the state that developmental activities will persist, even in the face of financial challenges.

The important achievements of the state in ensuring houses to the homeless through the LIFE mission, making the state one of the best centres for startups, high welfare pensions and ensuring recruitment through the public service commission are being presented before the people. The government has handed over 3,56,108 houses at a cost of Rs 4 lakhs per house while around 1.41 lakh houses are under construction. Despite providing a share of Rs 72,000 for 32,171 houses in rural areas and Rs 1.5 lakh for 79,860 houses, ie, only 31.45 per cent houses have received grant under PMAY scheme covering merely 14.73 per cent of the construction cost.  The union government is insisting on branding the houses with the image of the prime minister stating that the house is sponsored by the PMAY scheme to which the LDF government has taken strong exception.

The LDF government has accused the BJP government of reducing the share of revenue under different heads, leading to the financial strains. The minister for local self government, M B Rajesh during a meeting said that the state has received Rs 19,662 crores as revenue share while Uttar Pradesh has got a share of Rs 2.44 lakh crores. Explaining the disparity towards Kerala, he stated that though the population of UP is six times greater than that of Kerala, UP has received 12 times the share of revenue Kerala received. The state has received 1.89 per cent share, while Assam with a similar population has got 3.128 per cent share. Also Odisha with a slightly higher population has received 4.5 per cent share. The LDF has accused both the Congress and the BJP of remaining silent despite the injustice meted out, hampering the developmental aspirations.

The state has progressed well in providing employment through the public service commission. As per the data of the UPSC, the government of Kerala has recruited 15,246 people between January and June this year, while 26 other states together have appointed only 19,646 people. West Bengal with 3,605 appointments stands a distant second. The LDF leaders accused the Congress of spreading misinformation about the work executed by the government to tarnish its image. The boycott call by the UDF of the Nava Kerala Sadas has not had any impact on the crowd gathering at each venue, since the agenda is aimed at resolving people's issues and charting out a plan for future development of the state under changing scenarios.