Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF, the principal opposition in the Kerala legislative assembly, on Saturday held protests across the state against the manner in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has allegedly let down the diaspora returnees.
Vijayan had first said that all those who return from abroad will be given free quarantine facilities and had even informed the Kerala High Court through an affidavit. But he took a somersault early this week when he said that since they are all coming on tickets bought by themselves, they cannot be given free quarantine.
After huge protests from the opposition and the diaspora, Vijayan changed his stand again and said those who are poor need not pay. However, the order to this effect is yet to come out and when he was asked by the media about it on Friday he said it will come out soon.
On Saturday, the top brass of the Congress-led UDF protested in front of the state secretariat and demanded that Vijayan take care of the diaspora returnees.
“Vijayan has let down the diaspora after praising them on many occasions for being the backbone of Kerala for ages. When they really needed help, Vijayan has dumped them and he should provide all assistance for free to the returnees,” said Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asked Vijayan to immediately modify his wrong stand as the situation is really bad.
State Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran demanded that the State and Centre should immediately come to the rescue of the diaspora with a rehabilitation package as they are in a bad way.
Since May 7 close to 12,000 people have returned from the Middle East, of which over 5000 are now lodged in state-run isolation centres.
According to the released figures over 3.80 lakh diaspora have registered, wanting to return.
One reason why the Vijayan government decided to levy a charge for quarantine was that some people who were in free quarantine centres complained of lack of comfort.
Vijayan’s decision to levy charges saw a good number of trolls surfacing on the social media, especially after his speech at a UAE reception where he had said that his government will provide six months’ salary to all diaspora who return after they lose their jobs.