Vijayan says his absence will not come in the way of relief and rehabilitation operations under way in the state
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday left for the US for medical treatment, a visit that had been due last month but was postponed owing to the flood havoc in the state.
The 73-year-old, who is accompanied by his wife, will seek medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Before his departure, Vijayan said his absence would not come in the way of relief and rehabilitation operations under way in the state.
His absence happens at a time when the state is discussing a financial package with the World Bank, and is discussing details of a package to rebuild the state from the flood ruins.
In his absence, Industry Minister E.P. Jayarajan — recently inducted back into the cabinet after having had to leave the ministry following allegations of nepotism — will hold charge. Most ministers in the cabinet are engaged in relief operations in various districts.
Jayarajan said there would be no administrative lacunae owing to the absence of the chief minister, and that crucial decisions will not be kept pending.
Reports indicate that Vijayan has not given any one minister the role of coordinating the functioning of ministers, hinting that he himself would remote-control the ministry’s functioning from abroad.
One of the pressing concerns for the government is the spread of rat fever (leptospirosis) in different districts. Four more deaths from rat fever were reported from Kozhikode district on Sunday, taking the toll in recent days in different districts to more than two dozen.
On social media, the chief minister faced criticism for not being transparent about the reasons for going to the US for treatment, as well as not for clearly handing over charge to one of his cabinet colleagues.
Several others wished him well, hoping that he would get better and return home soon. Reports indicate that the chief minister is likely to be away for at least three weeks.