There have been several attempts to tarnish the image of Kerala over the last year or so, using fake propaganda on social media. In an effort to paint Kerala as an unsafe place, a video was shared on Twitter by a few influential people, to create a false impression among the larger public that a murder was being celebrated in Kerala. However, it was later found out that the video was of people celebrating their victory in a football match. Similarly, a video of a riot elsewhere, was shared on Twitter as something that happened in Kerala.
On Facebook, pictures of dead cows on the road were shared with posts saying that cows are being ruthlessly butchered in Kerala. This claim was also disproved later. A video of a street play on the murder of Gauri Lankesh was shared widely, alleging that a Hindu woman was being killed in broad daylight in Kerala. That hoax was also busted. Clearly, such campaigns were orchestrated to create communal tensions.
There have been numerous propaganda against Muslims in the state. One campaign stated that Hindus are not allowed to buy land in Malappuram. This was disproved by the Hindus of Malappuram itself, including the former Foreign Secretary. Tensions were sought to be created by spreading rumours on social media that Muslims desecrated a temple at Nilambur, during the holy month of Ramzan. However, police caught the culprit within 24 hours and it turned out that he belonged to the Sangh Parivar. There were messages which said that the Muslims of Perumbavur do not allow the selling of pork there. That too proved to be a fake propaganda.
Amidst all this, a ‘Boycott Kerala’ campaign is being run with the call to bring the tourism industry in Kerala to its knees. People of other states are asked not to come to Kerala so as to bring our tourism industry to a standstill. Malicious campaigns such as this might affect the economy of Kerala to a certain extent. It is clear that those who are behind such fake news have no regard for the lives and livelihoods of the people of Kerala.
On the one hand Malayalis are accepting all Indians as brothers and sisters in the land of Kerala. On the other, all around the world, Kerala is doing India proud by way of its migrant engineers, nurses and doctors. Thus, Kerala is in the forefront of earning the much essential foreign exchange for our country’s exchequer through our human resources. Export of spices, cashew and rubber also strengthens our foreign exchange reserve. Even for international tourists who are another prime source of foreign exchange for the nation, their trip to India is not complete without visiting Kerala, popularly known as ‘God’s Own Country’.
Kerala is a state where secularism thrives and communal riots are totally absent. It is a state which offers the best living conditions for our Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It is also a state where women are better off than they are in many other parts of our country. It worries a few that this small state has made such giant strides in individual and social progress. The fact that they have no role to play here is the guarantee for Kerala's further prosperity, peace and communal harmony.
As you know, the LDF Government has been taking a consistent stand against corruption. You may be aware that there had been a scandal relating to solar schemes, during the previous UDF rule. Following a mammoth rally against corruption held in front of the secretariat, the then government was forced to constitute a judicial commission to enquire into it. It was the UDF government that instituted the inquiry and prescribed the terms of reference for the probe. The judicial commission submitted its report to the government two weeks back. The cabinet after examining the report thread bare, decided to take action on it based on the legal opinion it had got.
Now, the allegation is that the action taken on the report is politically motivated. How can it be? Action taken on the report of a commission constituted by their own government cannot be politically motivated. The government has taken the steps that were required by the law of the land. The government will place the enquiry report along with the action taken report on the table of the assembly. The government policy is that `let the law takes its own course'.
Along with ensuring that corruption is uprooted, we have developed a two-pronged strategy that is guiding us. On the one hand, we will vigorously champion long-term projects to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development of the state. To enable that, we have reconstituted the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), so as to attract investments outside the budget for infrastructure development and capital investment. On the other, we will relentlessly proceed with short-term relief measures to provide succour for our disadvantaged sections in their distress. Our social welfare pensions for various sections of the population are a step in this direction.
Contrary to popular perception that public sector units cannot be profitable, we have been able to turn the fortunes of several loss making public sector units in the state. We are also administering specialised missions to revive our environment and increase agricultural production, to improve our already world-acclaimed health care system and public education system, and to ensure housing for all.
The four missions, Haritha Keralam Mission, Aardram Mission, Education Mission and LIFE Mission will bring about a lasting change in Kerala's society. Haritha Keralam Mission intends to preserve the nature, clean up the water bodies and ensure scientific waste disposal. The big initiative taken by the government has encouraged large number of farmers to shift to organic farming. The awareness campaign to ensure pesticide free vegetables has created huge impact in the state. Aardram is an ambitious plan to provide quality health care to all the citizens. On the basis of Education Mission, the class rooms would be converted as Smart Classrooms and make the schools centers of excellence. `LIFE' will ensure land and house for everyone in the State. Housing complexes would be built for homeless and at least one in such families will be facilitated with a job.
While doing all this, Kerala also busts the various myths propagated by those few, about this nation, its history, its communities and its path forward. Therefore, it is imperative for them to spread canards so as to tarnish the image of this state that over the years has become a role model. It is heartening to note that even in the face of sustained and orchestrated assaults on the state, Keralites stood together in defence of the concept of Nammude Keralam, which means our Kerala. Now we are marching towards Nava Keralam.
It is this beacon of hope and model for the rest of India that is being sought to be tarnished for political gains. Carrying forward the tradition of Kerala's renaissance movement, we have made a bold decision to allow entry for Dalits to the sanctum sanctorum of temples for performing rituals. Thus, we have put forward yet another model of social justice. Yet, it is this society that is being targeted.
You are aware of the calls from some quarters, to dismiss the present government in Kerala invoking the article 356 of our constitution. Surely such campaigns will gain momentum in the search for an opposition free India. But, the progressive, secular and liberal people of Kerala and the country as a whole, will trounce such malicious efforts.
Let me conclude by making a request to the journalists who are gathered here. You are expected to uphold the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability in your profession. I am sure you hold the journalistic ethics and its moral tenets close to your heart. The values that you cherish demand that you should find out the truth behind the campaign that seeks to tarnish Kerala.
All of you are welcome to Kerala to ascertain the facts and truths. Once you drop in, I am sure you will be convinced that the land of Kerala in every respect is peaceful and prosperous. Thank you.
(The first part of the speech can be read here)