CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan accused the Centre of playing vendetta politics over the financial offer made by the Emirati government to flood-affected Kerala.
Speaking to the media in Thiruvananthapuram, Balakrishnan said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government at the Centre is taking an “anti-Kerala” stand.
“This should be seen as a follow up to statements that have come from Sangh Parivar agencies asking people not to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund,” he told the media a day after the Centre politely refused to accept the Rs 700 crore aid offer made by UAE.
While the Kerala government has been saying it needs the funds given the humongous loss of everything from agricultural land to civic infrastructure, the Centre rejected UAE’s offer on Wednesday citing “existing policy”.
“The government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries.
“In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” Kumar said.
“This should be seen as a follow up to statements that have come from Sangh Parivar agencies asking people not to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund,” Balakrishnan told the media.
He said that clinging to rules that will deny aid from foreign countries to flood-hit Kerala is nothing but an act of vengeance by the Centre.
The “existing policy” the foreign ministry was referring to dates back to 2004 when the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by the Congress took a decision not to accept foreign aid.
Following the devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami that year, Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister, had said, “We feel that we can cope with the situation on our own and we will take their help if needed.”
Reacting to the Centre’s decision on Wednesday, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted that Chapter 9 of National Disaster Management Plan states that aid from a foreign country can be accepted in times of severe calamity.
Besides the UAE, Qatar has offered Rs 35 crore to help Kerala, where the worst floods in nearly a century has left some 370 people dead, more than a million people homeless and caused widespread destruction.