Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not attend the inaugural function of the third Kerala Loka Sabha in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. Officially, it is said the Chief Minister has been advised rest by the doctor.
So instead of the Chief Minister, it was Speaker M B Rajesh who presided over the function. The opposition UDF, though it had earlier agreed to participate, has decided to boycott the event for the second time in a row. In 2019, the UDF had boycotted the event citing two reasons. One, none of the decisions taken at the first Loka Kerala Sabha was implemented. Two, extravagant spending for the organisation of the event.
This time Opposition Leader V D Satheesan had confirmed participation provided three conditions were met. One, there should be no extravagance. Two, a progress report should be presented at the event. Three, non-resident Keralite organisations affiliated to UDF parties should also be given representation. All three were agreed to.
Speaker M B Rajesh was expecting UDF participation even yesterday, on June 15. "It was only today that the Opposition Leader had called me giving the list of UDF associations taking part in the Sabha," the Speaker had said during a press conference on June 15.
However, the recent agitation unleashed by the UDF demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister had put a big question mark over the UDF participation. A meeting of UDF leaders on Wednesday finally decided to keep away from the event. Nonetheless, Pravasi organisations associated with the UDF would be allowed to participate.
This year's edition of Loka Kerala Sabha will host 351 members; 169 elected members (MLAs and MPs from the State), and 182 non-resident Keralite members. These NRKs were selected from a pool of 608 applicants by a screening panel. The latter group consists of 104 members from abroad, 36 from other States, 12 NRKs who have returned to India and 30 'eminent' expatriates.
The Sabha will conduct discussions on migration-related topics during June 17 and 18. These topics will be divided into two: geographical and subject-based. The eight subject-based topics are knowledge economy, NRK investment in the building of a new Kerala, the future of migration and employment, assessment of government-sponsored NRK welfare programmes, challenges faced by NRKs, cultural exchange, women and migration, and problems faced by Keralites in other States.
The seven geographical regions that would be discussed during the event are West-Asian countries, other countries in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, countries of north and south America, Africa, other Indian states, and returned migrants.