The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday questioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s claim that the United Arab Emirates had announced a financial aid of Rs 700 crore for the flood-hit state, IANS reported. The party asked the chief minister to reveal who had told him about the offer.
“We want Vijayan to explain about this news and from where he received it,” state BJP chief Sreedharan Pillai told reporters at a press conference in Kozhikode. “After the Centre expressed reservations in accepting the aid, a vicious smear campaign was unleashed against the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
The Centre on Wednesday said that it would not accept offers from foreign governments to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Kerala floods, but said contributions from international foundations were welcome.
Vijayan and state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, however, said the country, by law, could accept financial aid voluntarily given by a foreign government in times of a severe calamity. They cited the National Disaster Management Plan’s chapter 9, which deals with international cooperation. Isaac asked the Centre to compensate the state for choosing to adopt a negative stance towards the UAE’s alleged offer.
On Thursday, UAE Ambassador Ahmed Albanna told The Indian Express that his government had not made any official announcement so far about the amount of financial aid it was willing to offer. “The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing,” the envoy said. “Announcing any specific amount as financial aid, I don’t think it is final, since it is still ongoing.”
On Friday, the chief of the BJP’s information technology wing, Amit Malviya, accused a “Communist-Islamist nexus in Kerala” of celebrating a “non-existent offer from a foreign country” while running down the government and organisations that do not suit their “ideological narrative”.
On August 21, Vijayan said Malayali businessman and philanthropist MA Yusuff Ali, who heads the Lulu Group, had first informed him of the West Asian nation’s offer. Ali’s company on Friday denied reports that claimed the businessman had offered to contribute Rs 700 crore to the state’s flood relief fund if the Centre did not accept the UAE’s assistance, Manorama reported.
Union Minister KJ Alphons on Thursday requested the Centre to change a 14-year-old convention of not accepting foreign financial assistance. “I would plead that for my state because I have seen the misery,” Alphons added. “We need the money.”