Coronavirus: UDF opposes salary challenge, says CM’s relief fund not credible

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala   | Photo Credit: S.Gopakumar

State should create a separate Treasury account to deposit endowments received from the public for combating the pandemic, says Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition on Wednesday crossed swords with the Kerala government over the “unilateral” decision of the Cabinet to “appropriate a month’s salary” from State employees to augment the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) “purportedly” to tide over the financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala faulted the government for not taking service organisations into confidence before deciding to make it obligatory for government employees to forfeit their wages under the “profoundly unpopular” nomenclature “Salary Challenge”.

Active politics seemed to resurface after a pause in Kerala with Mr. Chennithala stating that he had no trust that the government would use the endowments received by the CMDRF solely for combating the pandemic situation.

The CMDRF could be used for any end thought fit by the government. He demanded the State create a separate Treasury account to deposit endowments received from the public for combating the pandemic.


Flood relief

Flood relief channelled from the CMDRF in 2018 and 2019 had “by-passed eligible persons”. It mostly benefited the Communist Party of India (Marxist) members and sympathisers who did not qualify for the aid, he alleged.

Past experiences had proven that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) singularly lacked the political propriety to rise above partisan politics in the time of national adversity.

The government’s “name is mud” after the police revealed that the CPI (M) in Ernakulam had used the accounts of a party-controlled service cooperative bank to siphon off flood relief funds from the CMDRF by faking the identity of beneficiaries, Mr. Chennithala alleged.

The government had stacked the deck in favour of ruling front constituencies when allotting cash for the repair of flood-hit village roads, he charged.

Mr. Chennithala asked the government to exempt essential services from the salary challenge.

“The CM daily counsels people to be spartan during the lockdown. However, he has no qualms in sanctioning ₹ 2 crore at this juncture to hire a helicopter for VIP travel. There is a dichotomy between what this government sermonises and what it practises,” he said.

Mr. Chennithala flagged the crisis in the farm sector and demanded the government exempt agriculture from the lockdown.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 3:43:31 AM |

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