Kerala: Congress MP Hibi Eden wants state capital shifted to Kochi, CM says impractical

Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said the proposal was wholly without merit and it was mischievous of the Union government to send the proposal to the Kerala government

Congress MP, Hibi Eden (photo: Manorama Online)
Congress MP, Hibi Eden (photo: Manorama Online)

Ashlin Mathew

Congress MP Hibi Eden has demanded that the capital of Kerala be shifted from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam and he had submitted a private member’s Bill to the government in March. However, the state government has opposed the move.

The union ministry of home affairs had sent Eden’s request to the Kerala chief secretary in April and requested the state government to respond to the ministry with their views. In the file notings, the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan noted that the proposal is impractical.

In the Bill, Eden had mentioned that the objective of this Bill was to change the state capital from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam, taking into account its geographic location, importance, and as a central part.

The Congress said they have not discussed the matter, while Thiruvananthapuram MP Dr Shashi Tharoor underscored that the proposal was "wholly without merit".

He also pointed out that it appeared strange that the Central government has written to the state government based on a Private Member's Bill.

"We had tabled a Bill for allocation of HC Benches in state capitals and that was never taken up for such a consultation with either the state government or the Chief Justice of the High Court. It seems mischievous to take the matter up as if it were a serious proposition," said Tharoor.

The State Capital Relocation Bill, 2023, MHA, GOI (photo: Ashlin Mathew)
The State Capital Relocation Bill, 2023, MHA, GOI (photo: Ashlin Mathew)

The Bill wanted a State Capital Relocation Committee to be constituted in order to identify the new site for the capital city and submit a report to the government. The Committee is supposed to consider the financial implications of establishing a new state capital and submit a report on the subject.

Eden argued that the relocation of the state capital from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam would be a step towards the development of the state and its people.

Capital cities across the world have evolved out of their complex socio-political history, not from the simple logic of geographic centrality, explained Tharoor. "While granting my friend and colleague Hibi the right to promote his constituency on whatever manner he sees fit, I must say that the proposal is wholly without merit."

"If the latter is the yardstick and going by the argument of the Bill, all the state capitals and the national capital itself will have to relocate to their geographic center points. Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata could no longer be the capitals of their states and Delhi would have to be relocated to Nagpur!!" quipped Tharoor.

However, the Bill also pointed out that the total cost of relocating the state capital from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam cannot be accurately estimated, but would require a significant investment from the government.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K Sudhakaran said he would not want to comment on the subject and Tharoor maintained that there had been no discussion in the party on the issue.

As under the rules, once a private member’s bill is discussed publicly, it cannot be submitted, pointed out Tharoor. So by definition, there could not have been any prior discussion. Private Member Bills reflect the individual interests of individual members and have nothing to do with the party.

Fellow Congress MP Adoor Prakash maintained that anyone can send a private member’s Bill for consideration to the government. “The Congress has not discussed the issue and if it is required, we will. As of now, it is not a workable idea. It would have been better if he had discussed the subject before sending it to the union ministry,” said Prakash.

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