Kerala’s LDF Govt Takes Cabinet to Grassroots, Involve People in Governance
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan addresses the outreach program in the presence of cabinet ministers (Courtesy: CMO Kerala).
Thiruvananthapuram: ‘Navakerala Sadas’, the public outreach programme of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of Kerala, is aimed at meeting the people directly to address their concerns, seek feedback on the performance of the government and get opinions about the aspirations of the people about the future of the state.
All the cabinet ministers, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, began their journey from the northernmost constituency, Manjeshwar, in Kasaragod district on November 18. They will end their journey in the Vattiyoorkavu constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district on December 24.
The people cutting across backgrounds are thronging the venues to register complaints at specially provided counters for women, senior citizens and differently-abled persons. The respective departments are directed to address the concerns raised within four weeks. A website has also been launched for people to register their complaints and know their status.
The program is not without controversy, as the United Democratic Front (UDF), the opposition block led by the Congress, accused the LDF of using government machinery for political gains.
A section of the media alleged that the LDF government purchased a luxury bus for travel, with even some media claiming the bus was equipped with lift, meeting space and sophisticated facilities, which turned out to be untrue.
‘TAKING THE CABINET TO GRASSROOTS’
The decision to visit all 140 constituencies for the first time in the state was taken at a cabinet meeting in September this year after a detailed deliberation, considering the changing aspirations of the people. With the members of the respective constituencies presiding over the mass contact program, the government departments decided to set up special counters to receive the public's concerns.
Since the UDF boycotted the program en masse, the inaugural gathering in Manjeshwar was presided over by Revenue Minister K Rajan. He detailed the efforts pursued by the LDF government to address every section of the population over the past year, including the regional review meetings held.
“The decision to visit all the constituencies and meet the people directly was not taken hastily. The forest minister visited all the hilly areas, and the fisheries minister visited almost all the fishing areas earlier this year. Further, during May and June, all cabinet ministers visited the 78 taluks of the state,” he said while addressing the meeting.
The campaign has visited 23 constituencies in Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikode districts, where thousands of people thronged the venues to air their concerns and suggestions to their government. A total of 14,852 complaints were registered in the four constituencies of Kozhikode on the first visit to the district.
Ahead of the mass contact program, every day, a meeting over breakfast is scheduled with industrialists and key personalities from the constituencies in the schedule for the day. They hold discussions on possible investments, launch of new industries, etc.
En route from one constituency to the other and the camp, the cabinet is checking on the progress of different projects, including the work of the national highways. A cabinet meeting was also held on November 22 in Thalassery.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan chairs the cabinet meeting during the Navakerala Sadas Yatra on November 22 (Courtesy: twitter.com/pinarayivijayan)
CONTROVERSIES AND RESPONSE
As soon as the GoK presented the plans to take the cabinet to the grassroots, the Congress accused the LDF government of wasting public money when the state was short of funds. It announced the boycott of the outreach programme.
The government has instructed the local self-governments to allocate a part of the funds for the conduct of the program. The Youth Congress held black flag protests at a few centres where the cabinet travelled for the programme.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan took a sharp jibe at the UDF, particularly the Congress for boycotting the programme. “The boycott by the Congress is against the democratic principles. The participation of the people’s representatives from all parties is essential for the enrichment of the program,” he said.
Another controversy, which was raked up by a section of the media, was about the ‘luxurious bus’, in which the cabinet is travelling for the outreach program. A local Malayalam media even reported that the bus has an exclusive meeting room.
However, the bus turned out to be a 25-seater vehicle for the cabinet to travel across the state, since the ministers travelling in separate cars would end up in traffic blocks. The bus is reportedly cheaper than the Volvo buses used by the Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC), with a bio-toilet facility.
The minister for transport, Antony Raju said, “The bus will be handed over to KSRTC after the Navakerala Sadas. The government has also saved a significant amount of money by using a single bus instead of multiple vehicles”.
Though the UDF has announced a boycott, the presence of a couple of leaders of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in the programme created a flutter. The allegations of the UDF and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seemed to not have deterred the public's enthusiasm as thousands of people continue to gather at the programme to register their complaints and express their opinions and suggestions.
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