Left pins hope on Nava Kerala Sadas extravaganza ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls

ERNAKULAM | Updated: 22 November, 2023 3:22 pm IST
CM Vijayan and his cabinet inside the 'luxury bus' (Photo from Social Media)

THIRUVANTHAPURAM:  Emulating the ‘Jana Sambharkha Yatra” formulated by former Chief Minister and Congress veteran Oommen Chandy, the present Kerala government led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is leaving no stone unturned to make the “Nava Kerala Sadas” public outreach programme a massive success. 

This development arrives when the Left Democratic Front leadership is looking to beat anti-incumbency following various allegations of corruption and nepotism being levelled against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his government.

The CM and his party believe that the outreach programme will change the political discourse in Kerala, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The entirety of the cabinet has started reaching out to the people across the 140 assembly constituencies to listen to the complaints and grievances that the public may have.

“The media has been trying to take the sheen out of the initiative of the government. Though they have tried many things, the people didn’t bite the bait. It was then that the media jumped onto the subject of a ‘Luxury Bus’,” said Vijayan while addressing the crowd on the first day of the outreach programme.

However, the road ahead for the programme looks fairly challenging as the Vijayan government has been accused of running an ‘extravaganza’ and an ‘elitist bus trip’, by the Opposition parties in the state as financial conditions deteriorate. The Vijayan government has also revealed that meeting day-to-day needs has become “extremely difficult”. 

“The bus in which the cabinet ministers along with the Chief Minister is travelling reportedly costs Rs 1.10 crores is brought for this programme. Why don’t they use their official vehicles where the cost can be reduced substantially?”, questioned senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala.

However, the CPI(M) and its powerful party machinery has decided to counter this narrative by holding meetings in every constituency across the state where the CM and his colleagues will interact with eminent citizens and highlight the various achievements of the government.

“I wondered what luxury is there in this bus, as I have looked again and again,” Vijayan had said in jest at the programme amid applause and cheer from the audience, while taking a jibe at the opposition’s attacks. 

The Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, an academic establishment of the state government has warned that it has failed to manage its mounting public debt over the years and the dire financial situation could trigger serious economic repercussions.

A study published by the institute cautioned that if the situation persists, then the state will be forced to borrow more just to meet the current liability alone and called for measures on a war footing to manage the widening debt gap.

“When the state is undergoing a deep financial crisis, it is shocking to see that the government machinery themselves is holding cultural extravaganza like ‘Keraleeyam’ and just ten days following which they conducted the ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’ where the cost incurred is even higher. This is happening at a time when there are salary and pension dues for government employees and economically weaker citizens,” said Youth Congress Leader Abin Varkey to the Newindian.

As per available data, the state’s public debt stood at Rs 25,721 crores in 2000-01 and has now (2022-23) risen to a whopping Rs. 3.57 lakh crores.

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