Row over Kerala CM's 'family tours'

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's frequent foreign trips have triggered a row with the Opposition Congress alleging that the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues were carrying out family trips by spending public money, that too at a time when the state was facing acute financial crunches and even restrictions being imposed on the exchequer.

The fresh row triggered over the Chief Minister's ongoing tour to Japan and Korea accompanied by two of his cabinet colleagues and a team of senior IAS officers, including Chief Secretary Tom Jose. With the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues being accompanied by their wives too, social media is also flooded with trolls accusing the CM of carrying out family tour programme.

Mr Vijayan had faced criticism earlier while his daughter and grandson were also part of the foreign trip. However, the government had clarified that the travel expenses of the family members were not met by the government.

In the last three and a half years of the left-front government, Mr Vijayan visited UAE trice, twice to the US and one each to Bahrain, Netherlands, Switzerland, France and UK. At present, the Chief Minister is on a nearly two week Japan and Korea trip.

Kerala Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress alleged that most of the meetings being attended by the Chief Minister in Japan and Korea were with officials only and it did not require a Chief Minister to take part in such meetings. It was even as a disgrace for the state, he added.

An EOI between Kerala Government and Toshiba on developing technology for electric vehicles and manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, collaboration with Osaka University in Japan for Sandwich courses and conducting an investors' meet were the highlights of the ongoing foreign tour.
 
Sources close to the Chief Minister said that the outcomes of all the previous foreign trips of the Chief Minister were already furnished before the state assembly. Associations in various fields like flood mitigation, rebuilding post-flood Kerala and solid waste management were progressing.

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