Ministers lock horns over welfare project

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and his Kerala Minister for Rural Development K C Joseph have locked horns again.

This time too, Joseph’s outburst against Ramesh is for the latter’s firm stand that only Kudumbashree Mission, the women’s empowerment scheme of the Kerala Government, will be given Central funds.

Joseph minced no words in his attack against Ramesh at a press conference in Kottayam on Monday.

“We, the State ministers, are not the tenants of Jairam Ramesh,’’ thundered Joseph.
“Just removing grass on road margins will not empower women. There should be some other creative programme,’’ the minister said in a veiled attack on Kudumbashree under the Social Welfare Minister M K Muneer belonging to Muslim League.

Recently, a group of Congress leaders led by Joseph openly chided Ramesh for having appointed some of the senior State government officers in his ministry to look after women empowerment programmes.

Ramesh and P T Thomas, a Congress MP, had some furious exchanges outside the Lok Sabha on the issue.

This apart, Congress has launched a NGO named Janashree with a political agenda of clipping the wings of Kudumbashree, which Congress and its allies fear is still being controlled by the CPM.

Agitation

Members of Kudumbashree Mission, supported by CPM, held a week-long sit-in agitation in front of State secretariat alleging Joseph diverted some Central funds meant for women development programmes to Janashree.

Ramesh, who is aware of the real intention of Janashree, does not back the NGO and, thereby, earned the wrath of Congress leaders in the State.

Muneer also wants Kudumbashree to continue for poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. He announced Kudumbashree would continue to be the nodal agency for women’s empowerment programmes in the State.

Reacting to the outburst of Joseph, Ramesh reiterated that several states wanted to make Kudumbashree as the role model for their projects and the Centre would fund only Kudumbashree in Kerala for women’s development programmes.

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