Thiruvananthapuram: The surprise decision of the LDF Government in Kerala to appoint former union minister and expelled Congress leader K V Thomas as its special representative with Cabinet rank in Delhi is expected to cause unnecessary expenses to the state, which is deep in debt.
When CPM leader A Sampath had occupied the post for 20 months during the term of the first Pinarayi Vijayan government, the state government had spent Rs 7.26 crore to meet the required expenses. Of this amount, salary alone came to Rs 4.62 crore. In addition, money was spent on accommodation, travel and hosting guests. The amounts utlilized for purposes other than salary included: travel expenses Rs 19.45 lakh; office expenses Rs 1.13 crore; hosting receptions Rs 1.71 lakh; vehicle maintenance Rs 1.58 lakh; fuel Rs 6.84 lakh and miscellaneous expenses Rs 98.39 lakh.
Sampath, who was earlier the Member of Parliament from Attingal, was appointed as special commissioner after he lost the Lok Sabha elections overruling objections from the party. His monthly salary was Rs 92,423 and perks were the same as a minister’s.
Meanwhile, Thomas had not been rewarded even months after he was expelled by the Congress for taking part in the programmes of its rival, the CPM. When the CPM finally took the decision to please Thomas with the post of special representative in Delhi, the move is unlikely to benefit the state’s finances. This is because Kerala gained little with the presence of Sampath in the national capital. Moreover, with the BJP in power at the Centre, Thomas would not be able to do anything in favour of Kerala, allege those who are critical of the decision.
Sampath had taken over as special representative in August 2019. He was allotted a private secretary, assistant, driver and office attendant. He functioned from the Resident Commissioner’s office. In Delhi, Sampath’s task was to coordinate the state government’s activities in the national capital. However, when lockdown was announced following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sampath took the last flight from Delhi to Kerala, leading to a political controversy. In fact, he had left for Kerala when numerous people belonging to the state were stranded in Delhi due to the lockdown.
At that time, the posts of controller and liaison officer at Kerala House in Delhi were vacant. With Sampath also leaving for Kerala, there was no one to help Keralites, including nurses, return home from Delhi during the COVID-19 crisis.