Pinarayi Vijayan, LDF MPs protest in Delhi against Centre's decision to drop coach factory project in Kerala

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Left parliamentarians from the state staged a protest outside the Rail Bhavan on Friday against the Centre's decision to drop the proposal to establish a railway coach factory in Palakkad district of Central Kerala.

Blaming the Centre for "punishing" the people of Kerala, the chief minister claimed that it was because the state was being ruled by the Left Democratic Front the central government made this decision.

"The coaches, which are currently used in Kerala, are worn-out and creaking. The Centre has decided that a coach factory is not needed at Palakkad, but it seems they have agreed to open one in Haryana," Vijayan said.

 Pinarayi Vijayan, LDF MPs protest in Delhi against Centres decision to drop coach factory project in Kerala

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. News18

He added that Union railway minister Piyush Goyal had recently said that his ministry had sought land for a coach factory in Uttar Pradesh.

"So they can open coach factories in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, that too new ones, but not in Kerala. This is solely because Kerala is ruled by the Left Democratic Front and the other two states are ruled by the BJP.

"Is this how a democratic country should function? Doesn't this amount to punishing the people of Kerala? Does this suit the federal system of the country? It shows that the Centre doesn't approve of democratic manners," the chief minister said.

Vijayan's protest comes after the Prime Minister's Office denied an appointment to the Kerala chief minister for the fourth time in a row. Vijayan, who is currently in New Delhi to attend a CPM central committee meeting, was seeking an audience with the prime minister to discuss disparities in ration allocation to Kerala.

However, according to the report on News18, the PMO had responded to Vijayan's request, saying that he could meet food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan if needed.

Earlier this month too, Vijayan had sought an appointment with the prime minister to discuss the issue, but his request was similarly turned down.
Meanwhile, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has come out in support of Vijayan, who had visited him — along with N Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh, HD Kumaraswamy of Karnataka, and Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal — at the time of his own sit-in protest at the Lieutenant Governor's official residence Raj Niwas in Delhi.

Goyal had recently said that the Centre has no immediate plans to initiate construction of the Rs 550 crore rail coach factory in Kerala, the long-anticipated development project of the state.

The Union minister had also said that the railways had adequate facilities to meet the coach requirements and that the present facilities could meet the future demands as well.

The Left parliamentarians from the state, including Palakkad MP MB Rajesh, Idukki MP Joice George, Payyanur MP PK Sreemathy, Rajya Sabha MPs Elamaram Kareem and KK Ragesh, among others took part in the protest.

Vijayan, who led the protest, said that this issue showed how the Centre was treating the states.

"How could the Centre torture a region? How could the Centre consider Kerala its enemy? How could the BJP and its leadership behave with enmity towards Kerala? This is not limited to Palakkad or Kerala. It's a national issue. It shows how the Centre is treating the states," Vijayan said.

He said that Goyal and Prime Minister Modi must interfere in the matter.

"We are here today because of the promises not honoured for last 36 years. The promises were first made in 1982 by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi regarding the setting up of a coach factory in Palakkad," Vijayan said.

State railway minister G Sudhakaran had earlier lashed out at the Centre in the Assembly and alleged that the Union government has given up the project even as a coach factory at Rae Bareilly had already been commissioned and a similar project for Chennai was being considered.

The decision to set up the rail coach factory was announced in the 2008-9 Union Budget and state government had extended full support to the proposal.

About 240 acres of land was acquired for the factory years ago.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 17:25:30 IST