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When the Chief Minister and Cabinet go to the people

The Nav Kerala Sadas - New Kerala Meet - a new outreach initiative of the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, is set to begin today. The program, which aims to bridge the gap between the government and the people, will see the Chief Minister and all 20 ministers travel to all 140 constituencies in the state and hold discussions with the public. The Nav Kerala Sadas, as it has been named, has been the subject of much discussion and debate even before its flag-off. One of the reasons for this is that it is the first time in the country that an entire state cabinet is travelling together in a bus to hold discussions with the public across the state. A select team of senior officials will also accompany the cabinet. Even the weekly cabinet meetings will be held during the journey at different locations. The government has also made a commitment to resolve all complaints received during the journey within a month. For this, it has set up special computer systems. In addition, the program also includes a platform for ordinary people and experts from various sectors to interact with the Chief Minister and other ministers. The success of the program will depend on how effectively it is implemented. If it is able to achieve the said objectives, it will be a landmark event in the history of governance in Kerala.

On the other hand, the opposition is boycotting the Nav Kerala Sadas, accusing it of being a mere political gimmick. In other words, 41 dialogue sessions will be held in the absence of the (Opposition) MLAs in those constituencies. As an extension of the boycott, the Nav Kerala Sadas also does not have the cooperation of the local bodies governed by the UDF. The opposition's main allegation is that the Pinarayi government which is a total failure is conducting a political drama in view of the upcoming Parliament elections. In addition, they describe the entire program as another waste of the government, which is facing a huge financial crisis. By now, protests have already been raised about the bus on which the ministers are travelling. Even though there may be a difference of opinion among the general public about boycotting such a program in which the rulers come down to the people, the opposition's allegations cannot be seen as mere party politics. Firstly, it cannot be said that the government is going well for many reasons. The defeat of the Left Democratic Front in the two by-elections that have passed by a wide margin is also due to anti-government sentiment. The economic crisis is disrupting all sectors. The complete halt in the distribution of essential commodities due to the supply chain crisis and the complete disruption of the mid-day meal scheme in public schools are all due to the economic crisis. It is for the same reason that welfare pensions for three months fell in arrears. Of course, there are many reasons to blame the central government for this crisis. However, there have also been lapses in the financial management of the state government. The government directed to increase taxes including fuel cess to resolve the current crisis. It also compounded the burden of living for the common man. Most recently, the electricity charge was also increased. All of this has caused a great deal of public anger. In this backdrop, one cannot blame those who think that the Nav Kerala Sadas is a targeted political move to cool it down.

At the same time, it is also not right to view such political moves as so much of an offence as to warrant a boycott. If the Nav Kerala Sadas has any precedent, it is the public contact programs during the UDF rule. Pinarayi Vijayan was also among those who strongly criticized that program. Those who are now in power are the ones who made fun of the chief minister resolving the issues in public, which could be done by a village officer. A large part of the complaints that come up before the Nav Kerala Sadas may be copies of various applications that have been piling up in the village office or other government offices for years. It is better not to underestimate the effort in the name of political differences; The argument that all of this can be resolved by modernizing the bureaucracy is also not logical. Therefore, if a large number of people's problems are resolved through such programs, and if new models and ideas for creating a new Kerala emerge in those sessions, no matter how limited, it is a relief and hope. If the government can wake up and act up to that hope, it will be a good move in governance and a better political breakthrough.

Apart from all this, there are problems in Kerala that the New Kerala Sadas cannot solve. It is well known that problems including the current economic crisis are largely due to the lopsided policies of the central government. With the general elections drawing near, this is the time to launch strong protests against the Centre. Therefore, both fronts in the state would do well to think of a joint protest bus destined for Delhi.

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TAGS:Kerala governmentChief Minister Pinarayi VijayanNava Kerala Sadas
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