The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government on Friday triggered a major controversy after it depicted the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on the cover page of the state’s annual Budget. While Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac justified the move, the Congress termed it as an ‘inappropriate gesture’ which should have been avoided. Speaking to reporters on the development, Thomas Isaac said that it was a political statement meant to send out a message that his party would not forget who murdered Gandhi.
"Definitely, the cover of my budget speech is a political statement. It is a painting by a Malayalam artist of Mahatma Gandhi’s murder scene. We are sending out a message that we will not forget who murdered Gandhi. This is important at this time when history is being re-written. There is an attempt to erase some popular memories and use the National Register of Citizens to divide the population on communal lines but Kerala will stand united," he said.
The state finance minister further said that Gandhi was "murdered by Hindu communalists" who are today revered by the ruling party (BJP) and the central government. "We want to remind, we are telling we remember it, we will not forget it," Isaac said. However, the Congress did not agree with the Pinarayi Vijayan government and said that it should not have been taken on the cover page.
Congress leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala said: "Even though we are all fighting against the RSS and BJP, the budget cover should have been avoided. We are all fighting against the Hindu communal forces and we are all fighting against the BJP and Sangh Pariwar. But this image on the Budget cover, I don’t think this is an appropriate gesture." The BJP too slammed the Kerala government and said that it was done to divert the attention of the people from the sagging state of the economy.
Speaking to India Today, BJP spokesperson Tom Vaddakkan said: "This is a diversionary tactic of a failed state. They (Kerala government) have not been able to manage the economy so they have to divert the attention of the people of Kerala, this is basically a hardcore diversionary tactics. They have failed on all front. You know what the situation was during the floods. you know the situation that is prevailing. The bankrupt situation has erupted in Kerala."