CM Vijayan, Congress Slam Centre’s Denial of Permission for Kerala Minister’s Kuwait Visit; Governor Gopi Backs Criticism

The Times of India

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Congress party have vocally criticized the Union government’s decision to deny permission to Kerala’s Local Self Government Minister, M.V. Govindan, to visit Kuwait. The denial has ignited a political controversy, with both state government officials and opposition leaders questioning the motives behind the Centre’s move.

The Centre’s refusal came despite the minister’s proposed visit aligning with diplomatic norms and intended to strengthen ties between Kerala and the significant expatriate community in Kuwait. The Kerala government had planned the visit to address the concerns of the large Malayali diaspora residing in the Gulf nation. The agenda included discussions on welfare measures and exploring avenues for better collaboration between the state and the expatriates.

Chief Minister Vijayan expressed his discontent, stating that such decisions impede the state’s efforts to connect with its people abroad and address their issues effectively. He emphasized that the central government’s stance appears to be politically motivated rather than based on any substantive policy or security concerns. Vijayan’s sentiments were echoed by Opposition Leader V.D. Satheesan, who labeled the denial as an affront to the federal structure of the country. Satheesan argued that the Centre should facilitate and support states in their endeavors to engage with their diaspora, not hinder them.

Adding to the political storm, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan also backed the state government’s stance, asserting that the denial was unwarranted and detrimental to the interests of the Malayali community in Kuwait. Governor Khan’s support is particularly noteworthy, given his typically cordial relations with the Union government.

Historically, visits by state ministers to countries with significant expatriate populations have been commonplace and generally receive support from the central authorities. For instance, Kerala ministers have previously traveled to Gulf countries to foster good relations and implement welfare programs for expatriates. This continuity was seen as a part of India’s broader diplomatic engagement strategy, where sub-national diplomacy complements national foreign policy objectives.

The current scenario, however, underscores growing tensions between the state and central governments, reflecting broader issues within India’s federal framework. Critics argue that such denial disrupts the collaborative spirit essential for addressing the nuanced needs of regional populations.

As the political drama unfolds, it remains to be seen how this will impact future interactions between state governments and the Union government regarding international engagements. The incident spotlights the delicate balance of power and the need for cooperative federalism in addressing the diverse and dynamic needs of India’s states and their diasporic communities.

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