The Centre’s decision to deny diplomatic passport to a Kerala minister to visit Saudi Arabia to meet those languishing in labour camps has come in for criticism with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying it was “unfortunate”. Kerala Local self-government minister, K T Jaleel, had been deputed by the state government to visit Saudi Arabia for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation there.
Describing the Centre’s decision as “unfortunate”, Vijayan said the state government had wanted a minister to go to Saudi Arabia as the families of those who had lost their jobs were “extremely concerned”. To allay their concerns, the state had decided to send the minister to talk to those in the labour camps directly and hear their woes, he said.
“The Centre’s stand denying permission to the state minister to travel to Saudi Arabia on a diplomatic passport is mysterious,” he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. However, the Chief Minister said the government does not consider that there was any political motive behind this move.
“We accept that the Centre is making all efforts to mitigate hardships of those who had lost their jobs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said denial of diplomatic passport to Jaleel was a “serious lapse” on part of the Central government. Permitting state ministers to travel on a diplomatic passport is a “usual procedure” and the action by the Centre was “condemnable”, he said in a statement here.
“We cannot accept the Centre’s decision and the union government should rectify this lapse and permit the minister to travel to Saudi Arabia on a diplomatic passport,” he said. On Thursday, the External Affairs ministry had sent an e-mail message denying diplomatic passport to Jaleel.