(MENAFN - Arab News) Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty, Kerala state's long-serving minister of industries, was in the Kingdom recently on a private visit with his close relatives to perform Umrah.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Kunhalikutty expressed his optimism that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is accused of masterminding the 2002 carnage of Muslims in the state, would not become the next prime minister of India. "I am sure the BJP move to bring Modi to power in New Delhi would be defeated by the Congress and other secular parties."
"I don't think Modi will become the next prime minister. It will not be that easy. When election time comes all secular parties will come together to defeat him, because if Modi comes to power it will change the whole scenario in India; it will destroy the country's cultural unity."
The minister also spoke about Kerala government's efforts to rehabilitate Gulf returnees. "We have a clear agenda for rehabilitation. We have plans to establish special industrial parks, identify special projects for NRIs (nonresident Indians), give them subsidies and advertise them. Plans have been made to set up a series of small-scale projects in IT, food processing and agriculture. We also intend to make use of NRI investment in BOT projects with government guarantees."
Kunhalikutty is confident that India's growing youth force would make a big difference in its economic growth and political transformation. It would enable the country to compete with Western industrialized nations, which are now facing economic downturn with an ageing population.
The minister emphasized the need to strengthen the historical and cultural ties between India and Saudi Arabia. "Trade ties may vary but cultural relations will remain forever and make our bonds stronger. It's a kind of neighborly relation. We want to maintain this kind of natural relationship with Saudi Arabia."
According to him, there are good prospects for expanding industrial cooperation between the two countries. "We plan on inviting Saudi businessmen to Kerala to discuss possibilities of setting up joint ventures in various sectors, including IT, tourism, infrastructure and real estate."
He allayed fears of investors about industrial strikes in Kerala, asserting, "It has now become part of history. Those who conduct strikes would be isolated. Young people are watching progress in other parts of the world and if they see parties obstructing their progress by striking they will turn against them."
Kunhalikutty highlighted his ministry's achievements in making Kerala a leading electronic state in the world. "People in Kerala use information technology in most areas including education, commerce, communication, health and government matters. We have the largest number of mobile phone users, exceeding the number of our population. We have 14 e-districts. The number of people using social media platforms in Kerala is also very high compared to other states."
As per a recent assessment, Kerala ranked first in e-governance among the bigger Indian states.
The grassroot level e-service initiative 'Akshaya' has become a major success, offering a variety of services to the people including banking transactions.
"We will soon introduce e-movement of government files. This will not only improve transparency but also help eradicate corruption," the minister said.
The move by economic giant China to establish some of its manufacturing units in India is expected to generate many new job opportunities in various sectors, he added.
Asked whether he has any proposals to improve Haj services, Kunhalikutty, who is also minister in charge of Haj affairs, said the ongoing expansion works at the Grand Mosque would help more pilgrims to visit Saudi Arabia for Haj and Umrah in the coming years. "Our main problem is the long list of people who want to perform Haj. This problem will be solved after the completion of expansion projects."
He commended Keralite organizations for their volunteer services for the guests of God during the peak Haj days. He also disclosed plans to strengthen the Muslim League on a national level.