Kasaragod (Kerala) | In an embarrassment for the Congress, a key member of its ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) participated in the Left government's outreach programme, Nava Kerala Sadas, here on Sunday despite it being boycotted by the opposition UDF.
IUML's state general council member N A Abubakar not only participated in the morning session of the programme but was also seen sitting right beside Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The development comes in the wake of IUML MLA and Malappuram district general secretary P Abdul Hameed being recently nominated to the director board of the Kerala State Co-operative Bank, now called Kerala Bank.
The IUML leader's participation and Hameed's nomination comes amidst speculations that the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala was trying to woo the Congress ally.
After participating in the morning session of the Nava Kerala Sadas, Abubakar told reporters that it was not an issue of UDF or IUML.
"I wanted to bring to the attention of the CM some problems related to education and national highways. I have done that," he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress claimed that the outreach programme has turned into a stage for politically denouncing and criticising the opposition at state expense.
Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said that no one talks politics at government programmes, but only politics was being discussed in 'Nava Kerala Sadas'.
He also termed the programme a 'failure' as people could not meet the CM or ministers and hand over complaints directly to them nor were their issues resolved.
"The crowd at the programme was of those who were compelled or forced to be there," he alleged.
Congress MP K Muraleedharan recalled that when former CM and party stalwart Oommen Chandy had held such programmes, he would directly collect the complaints and provide a resolution then and there.
"Now the programme has become a stage to denounce and criticise the opposition as state expense," he said and added that it was not a government event, but that of the CPI(M).
Chennithala said if collecting complaints was the only objective, the CM and ministers need not go to all the constituencies at such huge expense and can receive grievances via online mode.
On the other hand, state Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas said many UDF MLAs want to take part in the programme, but were unable to do so due to "the stubbornness and anti-Left hatred of some Congress leaders".
The opposition Congress and the BJP have criticised Vijayan and the ruling CPI(M) over the conduct of the Nava Kerala Sadas amidst financial crunch and have dubbed the one month-long outreach programme as 'sheer extravagance'.