Former Minister of States for external affairs and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday lashed out against the Ministry of External Affairs for the latter’s decision to not give a diplomatic passport to Kerala Local Administration and Minority Affairs K T Jaleel to visit Saudi Arabia. Jaleel had applied for the diplomatic passport to facilitate the return of migrants stuck in the kingdom after construction firms laid them off.
In a Facebook post, Tharoo said: “Deplorable behaviour by the Ministry of External Affairs. Why shouldn’t the affected state send its own minister to see to the welfare of its citizens?” He said that if Sushma Swaraj doesn’t intervene, Jaleel should “go anyway, with an ordinary passport”. “Is this co-operative federalism?” he ended the post.
The post is also significant because, Jaleel is a member of the CPM-led government in Kerala, while Tharoor is from the Opposition Congress. According to Kerala government estimates, at least 300 workers from the state are stranded. Of late, such initiatives to bring back people are facilitated and led by the MEA directly.
Jaleel had earlier said he didn’t know why he was denied the diplomatic passport. He claimed it would be “difficult to visit a labour camp with an ordinary passport” as there would be no legal protection.