Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has sought to strike a chord with Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom his party considered untouchable for long.
Chandy, who had only a courtesy call on the Prime Minister since he assumed power in May this year, met Modi in New Delhi along with six of his ministerial colleagues on Thursday in what is considered as the first full-fledged official engagement with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
The meeting came amid the bitterness caused by the action taken against party MP Shashi Tharoor for praising the Prime Minister. The action was taken by the party high command on the recommendation by a committee of senior Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leaders, including Chandy.
The bitterness was not evident at the meeting the delegation had with the Prime Minister. A member of the delegation said Modi and other ministers received the ministerial team from the state with warmth and gave a patient hearing to the issues raised by them.
Chandy also invited the Prime Minister to the state to inaugurate the National Games to be held in the state next year. Chandy has the onerous task of maintaining close links with the BJP government since it has no representatives from the state.
The delegation had taken up the problems faced by the rubber growers following a steep fall in price, concerns of people living in the state’s high ranges and coastal areas over implementation of the Western Ghats conservation panel and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules and the demand for declaring Sabarimala as a national pilgrim centre with the Prime Minister.
After the meeting, Chandy said Modi had promised action on the demands in consultation with ministers concerned. He said the delegation had also submitted a detailed memorandum to the Prime Minister containing 18 issues faced by the state.
The memorandum proposed inclusion of rubber industry under the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India Scheme’ as a permanent solution to the problems faced by the rubber growers. It demanded an increase in import duty from the current 8% to 40% as a temporary solution.