KOCHI: A slugfest erupted between Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunilkumar and Union Minister of State for Tourism Alphonse Kannamthanam over the launch of the Union Government's Kisan Samman Nidhi project in the state on Sunday. Mr. Sunilkumar was furious that Mr. Kannamthanam held a launch function at Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) at Sreekariyam near Thiruvananthapuram while the state government had chosen Vaikkom in Kottayam district for the official state-level launch of the project with the farm minister being the master of ceremony.
The local MLA, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, and the state agriculture department officials were not invited for the programme at CTCRI. "The act of Mr. Kannamthanam smacks of political pettiness", Mr. Sunilkumar told reporters in Kottayam. Mr. Kannamthanam held the parallel inauguration with an array of central government officials and BJP leaders.
Mr Surendran also lambasted the union minister for holding the function without informing or inviting the representatives of the state government.
Mr. Kannamthanam, however, said the inauguration of the project was held at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and he along with central government officials was only watching the live-coverage of the event attended by the Prime Minister. Mr. Sunilkumar and Mr. Surendran should have gone to Gorakhpur if they were so particular about attending the inaugural function, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Kissan Samman Nidhi promising Rs 6,000 to farmers every year. The step has been viewed as measure to mollify the farmers in the country reeling under lower price and high input costs.
According to Mr. Sunilkumar a state-level launch of the project by the union government should be informed to the state government. The action of Mr. Kannamthanam shows political immaturity and pettiness, he added.
"I know how to reply to Mr. Sunil Kumar's allegations. But I will not respond in the same coin. The LDF Government had converted quite a number of central schemes into their own schemes including the housing scheme under the Life Mission", said Mr. Kannamthanam.