Without any celebrations, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government in Kerala sailed into its fifth year in office, resolving to steer through the COVID-19 crisis and assuring that development would not be affected.
Five people have died due to coronavirus in Kerala so far and over 95,000 are under observation. The total aggregate tally of Covid-19 cases is 847, while 322 are presently under treatment.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the unprecedented challenges faced in the last four years in the form of Ockhi cyclone in 2017, Nipah virus of 2018 which claimed 17 lives, the two devastating floods in 2018 and 2019 in which hundreds of people were killed and the COVID-19 this year had not deterred the government from achieving its goals.
Listing out the government's achievements, he told reporters that 2,19,154 homes were built under the ''Life Mission'', at least 14,000 schools went hi-tech and 40,000 classrooms were developed into smart-classrooms.
Major projects like the Gail pipeline which were in limbo became a reality and the government fulfilled almost all the promises made in its election manifesto, he said.
"Our journey to fulfil the promises made to the people of Kerala was filled with challenges. But we showed strength and resilience in the face of all such adversities," he said.
The Aardram mission helped the state's healthcare establishments with the latest equipment and upgraded services, he added.
"With the advancements made in the medical field, we dealt with the Nipah virus and later established the Virology institute. This gave us the confidence to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic", he said.
Such advancements came with a lot of financial burden and this was where Kerala needed the centre's help the most, which was lacking, he said.
Hitting out at the Opposition Congress-led UDF, he said they had never cooperated with the state government in the last four years.
Even during times of natural disasters and pandemic, they sabotaged all efforts of the government, he alleged.
"Is this how a responsible opposition should behave? They should introspect their attitude. People are watching," Mr Vijayan said.
Despite their lack of cooperation, the state government was able to continue with its development agenda, he said.
Pointing out that the Left government takes pride in its transparency, he said it would release a progress report on its performance.
Women were recruited for the first time in the fire force and their representation in the police force was also increased.
Kerala had taken a different stand from the Centre in the atter of disinvesting of Public Sector Units, he said.
"The Instrumentation Limited of Palakkad, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Hindustan Newsprint Limited (HNL) are among those PSUs which the Centre wanted to disinvest.
The state government has decided to take them over.
However, the process is pending as the centre is yet to grant permission in certain matters," Mr Vijayan said.
Meanwhile, slamming the government, Opposition leader in the assembly Ramesh Chennthala alleged it was a "complete failure" on all fronts and corruption was its hallmark.
The state had still not recovered from the two devastating "man-made" floods in 2018 and 2019.
The various promises made by LDF in its election manifesto were yet to be fulfilled, the Re-build Kerala initiative announced in the aftermath of the floods ended only in discussions in five-star hotels, he told reporters here.
"Though a Rs 2,000 crore coastal development package was announced, it remained only on paper and no projects had been
taken up so far," he said, adding that the Chief Minister had only "boasted" about his government's achievements.
Congress leaders later staged a demonstration in front of the secretariat here against the LDF ''misrule''.
Mr Chennithala and KPPC President Mullappally Ramachandran
took part in the protest.