Kerala CM Oommen Chandy counters PM Modi: How can PM say Somalia exists in India?

Referring to the statement, Chandy said, "This is unbecoming of a prime minister and has created a great deal of agony and protest."

By: Express Web Desk | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: May 12, 2016 12:20:20 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kerala CM Oommen Chandy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kerala CM Oommen Chandy.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for comparing Kerala to Somalia, saying he has insulted the state, and asked him to show some “political decency” by withdrawing his remark.

In a hard-hitting letter to Modi, Chandy said the prime minister’s comparison of Kerala to Somalia during a recent campaign rally, claiming the state had ‘adverse’ economic and social parameters, has “shocked” the people of the state as it has nothing to do with the ground realities. He also requested Modi to show some “political decency” by withdrawing the statement as they are “baseless and contrary to ground realities.”

Countering Modi’s remark that the state had lagged behind in various growth indicators including health and education, Chandy said Kerala was above national average in terms of economic growth and human resource development for the past five years.

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Chandy also said the state’s human resource has caught the attention of the world.

“Yet, you (PM) compared Kerala to Somalia that is reeling under poverty and internal strife. Is it not a shame for the prime minister to pronounce that a state like Somalia exists in the country?” Chandy said.

Referring to the statement, Chandy said, “This is unbecoming of a prime minister and has created a great deal of agony and protest.”

WATCH VIDEO | Kerala Twitterati Vent Ire At Modi’s Somalia Remark: Here’s What He Said

“With great deal of regret, let me point out that they (previous PMs) never attempted anything that brought disrepute to the office of the Prime Minister like you have done,” he said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the media.

On Modi’s jibe over the solar scam, in which allegations have been raised against him, Chandy said “no one in Kerala is going to be in panic on hearing the word ‘solar'”. He said people of Kerala know well that not even a single penny of the government was lost in the scam, which is a financial fraud whose victims are private parties.

“I wonder whether it befits a Prime Minister to feel disgraced during the time of election and proud on other occasions,” Chandy said, while pointing out to Modi’s praise on solar power initiatives in Kerala several times.

The BJP meanwhile backed the PM’s statement and alleged various welfare laws for the SC/ST communities were not being implemented in the state.

“For the benefit of SC/ST brothers, many laws made by the Central government are not being implemented in Kerala. Isn’t this an insult to the state,” BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan told reporters.

“The Chief Minister has raised the issue of the Malayalee pride being hurt now, only with an eye on the May 16 Assembly polls,” Rajasekharan said.

Media had highlighted reports of two tribal children rummaging for food at a waste dump in a tribal colony at Peravur in Kannur district and the incident had shaken the conscience of the nation, he said, adding, there was nothing wrong and ‘unnatural’ about what PM had said.

Referring to Chandy’s claim that for the welfare of the tribals, crores had been spent by the government and that no child in the state will eat from the waste dump, the BJP leader claimed that at Attapadi, 143 children have died due to malnourishment.

“Has the Chief Minister forgotten about them,” he asked. Chandy should explain the steps taken by the government to stop starvation deaths in the state, he said.

Peravur Adivasi boys eat garbage: This photo and news report by Nasser Veliyedath from Peravur in Kannur was published on the front page of Malayalam daily Mathurbhumi’s Kannur edition. It purportedly shows Adivasi children who have skipped school to have stale food dumped at a garbage processing site in the town.

Excerpts from Chandy’s letter clarifying on the news about the tribal children:

It  was  reported  by  the  media  that  Renjith  and  Rajith,  children of  Rajeevan and Sarada and also Abhinav, Sudeep and Akhil, children of Sasi and  Santha;  belonging  to  Paniya community  and  staying Thiruvonappuram Ambalakuzhi Colony in ward 12 of Peravur grama panchayat, were bunking  classes  to  trespass  a  waste  treatment  plant  for  consuming  stale food.  An enquiry was immediately done on the matter by the Department of Scheduled  Tribe Development and the local police.
As  per  the  report  of  the  Director  of  Scheduled  Tribe  Development Department  submitted  to  the  government  on  18‐11‐2015,  these  children studying  in  the  5th  and  6th  standards  at  Vekkalam  U.P.  School  are  facing complaints  of  skipping  classes  and  trespassing  farmlands  and  residential properties.  They  also  trespass  the  waste  treatment  plant,  despite  stern warnings  from  the  plant  workers.  Their  parents  are  agricultural  labourers and  they  get  jobs  on  a  steady  basis,  because  of  which  the  family  did  not experience  difficulty  in  getting  food  or  other  necessities.  The  two  families were given an acre of land each in the 10th block of the rehabilitation centre  in the Aaralam Farm, but they have not yet moved to that place for permanent settlement. Currently these families are living in habitable homes.
The Peravur Police in their report of 24‐11‐2015 says that the children were taken to the  school, free‐of‐cost, on vehicle by the  school manager Mr Shibu  Kalamandir  and  were  provided  with  free  mid‐day  meal  and  on  two days a week milk and egg. They rarely go to school. Everyday, these children after having food would leave their homes at their convenience. They are in the habit of jumping the walls of the waste treatment plant and pick the scrap, which  they  sell  to  buy  food  of  their  liking  from  hotels.  They  also  trespass farmlands to collect areca nut and coconut and used to sell them.
The  respective  reports  of  the  police  and  the  Scheduled  Tribe Development Department confirm the fact that the children never went to the waste treatment plant in search of food. In the police report, it has been said that these  children  gather  scrap  and  sell them for  buying food from  hotels. The facts being so, what was your motive behind saying such a blatant lie to
the people of Kerala? I can assure you that no child in Kerala takes stale food.
In Kerala, 25.02 lakh school‐ going students are being provided with free mid‐day meal and egg on one day and milk on another in a week. For five years, the  government  of  Kerala  has  been  giving  rice  at  rupees  one  to  94  lakh people. Now, we  are  giving that free  of  cost, making us the  second  State in India to do so



With inputs from PTI.