Kerala CM criticises centre for denying diplomatic passport to minister

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 5 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday expressed displeasure over the denial of a diplomatic passport by the Centre to cabinet colleague K.T. Jaleel to visit Saudi Arabia to meet with hundreds of Keralites who have lost their jobs and are stranded in the Gulf kingdom.

“We have lots of families in Kerala whose relatives in Saudi Arabia are facing a tough time. We felt it would be good if we sent a Minister. However, it is most unfortunate that the Centre has denied clearance to our Minister,” Vijayan told reporters here.

On Wednesday, the state government decided to send Kerala Local Self Government Minister Jaleel to Saudi Arabia to coordinate efforts with Kerala cultural groups there to help out the stranded Keralites.

On Thursday, the Centre denied him a diplomatic passport.

“I doubt if the Centre is going to gain anything by denying our minister a passport. It is unfortunate,” added Vijayan.

State BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran flayed the CPI-M for “playing unnecessary politics”.

“A diplomatic passport is generally given to officials from the Ministry of External Affairs. The Kerala government is just playing a blame game,” Rajasekheran told reporters.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh is in Saudi Arabia to coordinate with Saudi officials to air lift Indians wishing to return.

–IANS

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