“If the project is abandoned, it would badly damage the credibility of the state,” Vijayan said while addressing a government function here.
Referring to the fishermen protest against the construction of Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL), which is spearheaded by the clergy of the Latin Catholic Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, the Chief Minister said, “This move (the agitation) is not against the government. This is to thwart the progress and unity of the state. That would not be allowed even if the protest comes in any attire. Don’t think that the government can be threatened. The Vizhinjam port would happen.”
Vijayan said when the LDF government came to power in 2016, construction of the port had gone ahead significantly. “There would be differences between the LDF and UDF on policies. But if a government abandons a project commenced by a previous government, nobody would come to invest in our state. The government has addressed six out of seven demands of the agitating fishermen, but the demand that the project should be suspended cannot be accepted,’’ he said.
Vijayan also came down heavily on the remark of Catholic priest Theodacious D’Cruz, who said there is a terrorist in the name of state Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman. “How can a minister be called a traitor for the reason that his name is Abdurahiman. Where we are heading to. They want to destroy the peace and harmony of the state,’’ the Chief Minister said.
The priest, who is the convener of the anti-seaport protest committee, had made the remark in response to the minister’s comment that the protest against the seaport is a treason. Police on Wednesday had registered a case against D’Cruz, who had tendered an apology.
On Thursday, the minister refused to entertain the priest’s apology, saying, “The society at large would not accept his apology. Kerala is a land of religious harmony and let the law take its course.”
Meanwhile, Opposition leader V D Satheesan accused the government of provoking the protesters but said there was no place for any violence. “The government had provoked the protesters by registering the case against the bishop and other priests. The government wanted to convert the protest into a riot and protesters as terrorists. The fishermen were seeking rehabilitation, but Vijayan wanted to depict it as terrorism,’’ he said.
Referring to CPI (M) daily Deshabhimani’s report that the agitation has terror links, Satheesan said it is deplorable to dub the agitators as terrorists. “The party daily has published photographs of nine persons as the conspirators behind the violence. One of them is the brother of Transport Minister Antony Raju. Let the minister make it clear whether his brother has terror links as the CPI (M) daily alleged. Another photograph is that of a priest who had publicly campaigned for Antony Raju and CPI (M) legislator Kadakampally Surendran during the last Assembly elections. Pinarayi is behaving like Modi, who had depicted the protesting farmers as urban Naxals and Maoist,’’ said the Congress leader.