IN A clear departure from Left policies in the past, Kerala’s new Communist Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Sunday signalled that his government would spur industrial and economic development, even if it meant acquiring land for roads, while stressing on traditional areas like agriculture and tourism.
The Kerala government, he said, would also offer all “support” to industries and woo IT giants to create “Silicon Valley-like hubs”.
On the contentious issue of land acquisition, Vijayan said land will have to be acquired for expansion of highways and creation of new railway lines to run high-speed trains. But he added that his government would put in place a “special method” to undertake the exercise, including “better rehabilitation projects”.
Vijayan, who was sworn-in Wednesday, said that he plans to undertake a “clean Kerala” initiative to cleanse the state’s famed water bodies to bring tourists back and create more jobs.
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The Left government would, he said, also focus on traditional sectors, such as agriculture — he wants to bring 50,000 hectares of land under vegetable cultivation and focus on producing more milk, eggs and vegetables.
Vijayan also spoke about improving education and healthcare facilities — the backbone of the state’s remarkable human development index and development model.
According to Vijayan, Kerala has lagged behind in education and healthcare after making early gains.
Asked about the LDF government’s development plans, Vijayan said that Kerala cannot welcome all industries because of paucity of land but added that there are some that suit the state’s geographical features. “The electronics sector has not developed in the state. In that sector, we can create Silicon Valley-like hubs…thousands will get jobs. We are lagging behind in the IT sector. More establishments should come. Some people are already in touch with us to open new centres,” he said.
“Already, I have had a discussion with Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys co-founder). He said he will talk to others and that there is a plan for a new project,” he said.
With successive state governments sparring with the Centre over widening the state’s highways, Vijayan said his vision was clear.
“We have to speed up highway expansion. When I discussed that with some quarters here, (I came to know) we cannot say it is a problem at this end….We have made certain mistakes. There has been a delay in land acquisition. We will adopt a special method for that soon. Roads will have to be widened. We will take steps in that direction,” he said.
“A joint venture with Railways… the initial response is favourable. They have promised all help… new railway lines have to be constructed for running high speed trains,” he said.
Asked whether such a move would be a problem politically, Vijayan said, “The question is, land acquisition for what? If we convey all this, people will cooperate. There will be a special package for the affected and better rehabilitation projects. We will not harm anyone… those affected will be protected.”
Asked about trade unionism affecting industries, Vijayan argued that it was “a myth”.
“That situation has changed. Both trade unions and managements are taking a cooperative attitude. We will be in favour of bringing in new industries. All industries cannot come to Kerala. We cannot welcome all industries, but we will offer all support to those industries which can adapt to Kerala’s conditions.”
He added that his government was yet to work out a policy on the Centre’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) move.
Vijayan, however, offered no change in his attitude towards political violence. The issue of continuing violence between cadres of the BJP/RSS and CPM came up for discussion during his meeting this week with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, he said.
Claiming that Singh had broached the topic, Vijayan said he asked the Home Minister to “talk to his workers first”. “He said he will speak to them,” said Vijayan.
Asked about the fear that political violence will increase since the CPM has come to power, he said, “I cannot predict that…I can only say that the government will take steps to ensure that there is no such violence.”
Asked why the political leadership was not ready to discuss and resolve issues, Vijayan said, “People don’t know what RSS is. RSS gets training on how to kill a person easily. Why such training? In today’s society, why is training given to beat and kill a person? That is their method….The issue will be resolved if they move away from that, there will be peace.”
Asked about the growth of BJP, he said the party had failed to register any significant growth. “We don’t see it as a dangerous factor,” he said.