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In Shadow of Sabarimala Struggle, PM Modi Bypasses CM Vijayan to Open Kollam Road

The chief minister in a Facebook post snubbed PM Modi as he looked to take credit for the completion of the long-awaited project.

Chandrakanth Viswanath | News18

Updated:January 15, 2019, 7:04 PM IST
In Shadow of Sabarimala Struggle, PM Modi Bypasses CM Vijayan to Open Kollam Road
File photo of PM Modi and Kerala CM Vijayan.

Thiruvananathpuram: A 13-km bypass road on a national highway has become a bone of contention between the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government and the central government as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kerala on Tuesday to inaugurate the stretch of road.

Hours before the inauguration, the chief minister in a Facebook post snubbed PM Modi as he looked to take credit for the completion of the long-awaited project.

In the post, Vijayan said that his government kept its word of completing the project within 1,000 days to make the long cherished dream of people in Kollam come true.

“The Government and the Public Works Department are both happy of the fact that they were able to resuscitate this project. At the time when this Government assumed office, only a mere 23% of the works were in finished status. In contrast, 76% of the works have been completed in the past 2.5 years,” he said.

He also sought to remind the people that it was a joint project by the state and the central government and they contributed Rs 176 crores each to the bypass road, which cost a total of Rs 352 crore.

The CM’s statement is being seen as an attempt to stop Modi from reaping political mileage in Kerala, as the PM looks to build his image as a man of development in the state. The PM arrived in Kollam by air, and was received by Vijayan as the two attended the inauguration ceremony.

The fight over credit began as the state government had earlier announced that Vijayan will inaugurate the bypass road on February 2, but the BJP, in a coup of sorts, said that the Prime Minister will come for the inauguration on January 15.

It was alleged that MP NK Premachandran of RSP (a constituent of Congress-led UDF) had ‘by-passed’ the state government to invite the PM for the inauguration.

The visit seems to be more than an official event for Modi as he will also address over a lakh BJP workers Lok Sabha constituencies in Kollam - Kollam, Mavelikkara and Alappuzha – as the saffron party goes all out in its attempt to make headway in the southern state.

The rally in these 'red’ bastions makes sense for the BJP as the upper caste Nairs, who are unhappy with the Supreme Court’s Sabarimala verdit, make nearly a fourth of the population here.

The PM’s rally will come a day after ‘Makar Jyothi' was lit in the Sabarimala hillocks to mark the peak of the festival season.

It is also expected that 'Makar Sankranti' may be an ' auspicious' opportunity for the Prime Minister to affirm his as well as BJP's stand on the Sabarimala issue, at the public meeting in his first visit to the state after the issue of women entry snowballed into a big political slugfest.

While Modi as the PM of the country cannot be openly critical of the Supreme Court, he has already made his position on the issue clear subtly. Recently, he told an interviewer that the judgment of the lone dissenting judge in the Sabarimala case should be read carefully.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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