Kerala CM leaves for Europe tour, Norway first destination

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan left for Europe in an early morning flight from Kochi on Tuesday.

The CM was scheduled to fly out of Kerala on Saturday night. However, the trip was postponed after the health condition of former CPM state secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, worsened just hours before his flight.

Kodiyeri, 68, with whom Pinarayi maintained a cordial relationship, passed away hours later. His cremation was held at Kannur on Monday with Pinarayi in attendance.

The Kerala delegation headed by the CM will begin its tour with Norway. Earlier, it was scheduled to start with a visit to Finland.

Ministers P Rajeev and V Abdurahiman will accompany the CM.

The delegation will next visit the United Kingdom. Health Minister Veena George is expected to join them in the UK leg of the tour.


Political controversy 

With the state reeling under an acute financial crisis, the European tour had triggered a political row.

The opposition Congress and BJP asked the government to stop splurging money on foreign jaunts and practise financial prudence.

“At a time when the State is exploring avenues to borrow, the Chief Minister and other ministers are in queue to visit foreign countries. Splurging and extravaganza during the lean period have yet against exposed the Communist ideology,” said state Congress president K Sudhakaran after the Government announced the European tour.

But Finance Minister KN Balagopal justified the visit saying that it was 'important to gain knowledge.' 

"Kerala is not that impoverished. The CM's foreign visit will not impact the state's overall expenditure," Balagopal had said.  

"Kerala has a domestic revenue of Rs10 lakh crore," the Finance Minister added.

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