Monday, 30th October 2017

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This India is not that India! Really? A flood of memories

Kerala trolls target Modi over foreign aid, highlight different stand earlier

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 7.04.20, 4:33 AM
  • Updated 7.04.20, 1:48 PM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac on Sunday said the general feeling now was the decision to accept foreign contributions reflected the injustice done to his state bodhicommons/picasaweb.google.com

The Centre’s decision to accept foreign contributions for PM-Cares, 18 months after refusing flood-ravaged Kerala’s pleas to receive aid from abroad, has provided fresh fuel for the state’s vibrant troll army that has been shredding the Union government.

In August 2018 the Centre had cited the National Disaster Management Plan, amended in 2016, for rejecting all foreign help for Left-ruled Kerala, leaving it to fend for itself with little help from the government, which even billed for emergency rice supplies and use of Air Force choppers.

The troll factory hasn’t wasted a single moment now, specifically targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Sanghaputra, time has not fleeted without seeking revenge. This is payback time after you stabbed a flood-ravaged state in the back,” said one of the most popular Malayalam memes circulating on social media.

State finance minister Thomas Isaac on Sunday said the general feeling now was the decision to accept foreign contributions reflected the injustice done to his state.

“This iterates the injustice meted out to Kerala when we were really in need of help. The Centre didn’t even allow us to accept offers from several countries,” Isaac told The Telegraph.

While the state had sought a financial package of around Rs 40,000 crore, what the Centre provided was less than 10 per cent of the amount required.

“We welcome the change of stand by the Centre in accepting foreign funds. There was anyway no meaning in false prestige, as we see even America has accepted help from Russia,” he said, alluding to the emergency medical supplies America recently received from its arch-rival.

“But then the larger question is why PM-Cares when the PMDRF (Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund) is there to accept contributions. The government needs to explain this.”

Kerala BJP president K. Surendran is the subject of another viral meme that quotes his own Facebook post criticising Kerala for seeking foreign aid in 2018.

In his August 2018 message, Surendran had urged communists and Muslim parties — both described in a derogative manner — to read about the stand taken by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram who had rejected foreign aid. He did not mention any specific instance.

The earlier disaster management plan had ruled out accepting any foreign aid. The plan amended in 2016 kept a window open, stating: “As a matter of policy the Government of India does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster. However, if the national government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may accept the offer.”

Surendran had said in his Facebook post: “During Indira Gandhi’s time, children were given wheat that America would have otherwise dumped in seas. But that was needed then. Children, this India is not that India. To rebuild Kerala no one would have to beg before others in the India of Narendra Damodardas Modi.”

Surendran was not lagging in displaying his loyalty to the Prime Minister and his latest project by tweeting his support for PM-Cares along with the receipt for Rs 1,000 he had transferred.

While speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday, Surendran claimed his message had been misinterpreted.

“I had only said (in 2018) that it’s a different India that didn’t need to depend on external assistance. But that is being misinterpreted,” he said.

He had no clear answer when asked if it was all right to accept foreign funding for PM-Cares. “That is the PM’s decision,” he said. “What can we do?”

Considered an efficient leader known for his organisational skills, he said Kerala has been responding well to PM-Cares and the preliminary figures would be released soon.

A November 2018 Daily Mail story about the Rs 3,000-crore Sardar Patel statue — headlined ‘That’s rich! We gave £1 billion aid to India as they built £30 million statue’ — has also come in handy for the troll army.

“Building a statue of no use by taking help from foreign countries,” said another meme.

The troll army has not forgotten the floods that killed 480 people and destroyed thousands of homes and other infrastructure.

“Double standards, thy name is Modi? After denying foreign aid that would have come to Kerala the Centre is accepting foreign funds for PM-Cares,” said another one.