A letter by Rahul Gandhi, who represents the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Parliament, to district collector AR Ajayakumar requesting a permanent bridge on the Kalindhi river has not gone down well with local Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) legislator OR Kelu.
Mr Kelu represents the Mananthavady Assembly constituency, part of the parliamentary constituency represented by Mr Gandhi.
Mr Gandhi wrote the letter to the collector on Wednesday requesting the construction of a bridge for over 150 residents of the Nettara tribal colony.
"With all due respects to Rahul Gandhi, I would like to tell him what he should be doing is to ensure the full support of the Centre for the overall development of Wayanad.
"Rahul Gandhi should leave things like bridges to the legislator, who has been working hard for this bridge for the past two years. Since he has raised the issue, my humble submission to him is to ask what his party colleague, who represented Wayanad in the Lok Sabha since this constituency was formed in 2009, was doing for this bridge," Mr Kelu told news agency IANS.
MI Shanawaz was the Congress Lok Sabha member for almost two terms from Wayanad. He died in 2018.
"Rahul Gandhi should make efforts to see that the long-standing dream of a railway line passing through Wayanad is achieved, get a complete farm package and steps are taken to remove bottlenecks in smooth inter-state traffic to Bangalore. He should also find a permanent solution to the man-animal conflict, a routine affair in the Wayanad district. He should spend more time on these issues and leave the issues, like building bridges, to legislators," said Mr Kelu.
Over a decade now, the tribals in Nettara colony have been using a wooden bridge, which gets washed away every monsoon, leaving them stranded till a new bridge is built.
"I have got a Rs 10 crore allocation made in the annual budget for a permanent 150-metre-long bridge and a 1.5 km long approach road. I have been working for it for almost two years. We are expecting administrative sanction for the bridge and work to begin in six months," Mr Kelu said.
The Wayanad district collector told IANS he had forwarded Rahul Gandhi's letter to the engineering officer. "I have asked him to submit a report. Once I get that, I will follow it up and take it forward," said AR Ajayakumar.