Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan has expressed sincere gratitude to the central government and Prime Minister Modi for the assistance provided during the on-going relief work in the aftermath of the Kerala floods in an interview with Vasudha Venugopal of Economic Times.
While certain people have been using the tragedy to further their own political agenda and fan regionalist sentiments and fuel a North-South divide in the country and ‘liberal’ intellectuals have been resorting to fanning separatist sentiments in the wake of the Kerala floods, Kerala CM Vijayan and Prime Minister Modi has perhaps displayed how in the time of crisis, politics should play second fiddle federal cooperation.
Despite several probing questions, CM Pinarayi Vijayan remained steadfast in his claims that the central government had provided much assistance during the course of the relief work and he hoped that the centre will allocate more funds after a fair reassessment of the situation.
When prodded if the Center had undermined the seriousness of the tragedy by not declaring the floods a ‘natural disaster’, CM Vijayan responded, “I need to make it clear in no uncertain terms that the Government of India was forthcoming and responded positively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh visited the flood-hit areas and have been understanding the situation fully. The army, navy, air force and coast guard have been fully involved with the rescue operations from the beginning and they were part of the planning and execution. As regard to the interim advance, I am happy that they announced Rs 600 crore as two lots (Rs 100 crore after the first spell of floods and Rs 500 crore now) and I am hopeful that they would assess the situation and grant more assistance in the coming days. We have also requested the union government to consider the calamity as something of severe nature to provide all-around assistance, including from multilateral organisations for rehabilitation and reconstruction”.
CM Vijayan also expressed his “sincere gratitude” to the Prime Minister. When asked about how his meeting with the Prime Minister and the officials went, Kerala CM said a preliminary report has been submitted and he was sure that the Prime Minister understood and that his responses were very positive. He mentioned that he has been in constant touch with PM Modi over the phone and because of his intervention, cabinet ministers were also extending assistance.
When asked about Congress’ assertions that 500 crores are not enough relief, CM Vijayan agreed with that assessment but also said that he considers that amount as an advance and he was sure more aide would follow.