Politicians in Kerala have kicked up a controversy by referring to the state Health Minister KK Shailaja as “Covid Queen” (Covid Rani) and “Nipah Princess” (Nipah Rajkumari).
Against the Kerala government making Covid-free certificates mandatory for expatriates hoping to return to the state from the Gulf countries, Kerala Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran said the state health minister KK Shailaja was not interested in saving lives and mocked her with a “Covid Rani” epithet.
The state Congress chief said the health minister was only after records and laurels.
“She is trying to get the label of ‘Covid Rani’ and earlier she was fighting for the title of ‘Nipah Rajkumari’,” he said after inaugurating the one-day sit-in protest by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. He was referring to the nipah outbreak which was localised and contained effectively in 2018.
“More than 200 people died in the Gulf due to covid-19 in the last three months. Our people are desperate to come back. But the government is scared of its numbers and image. It is after records and recognition and shedding crocodile tears for poor expatriates who made Kerala,” he said.
The state government, said Ramachandran, should be held responsible for these deaths.
Many took to social media to slam the state Congress chief, calling out his speech as “misogynistic and unparliamentary”.
Last week the state had issued an order making a certificate mandatory for all foreign travellers coming to the state but the Centre said it was impractical.
On Thursday, CM Pinarayi Vijayan had suggested that the state will send testing kits to embassies.
There are an estimated 18 lakh people from the state in the middle-east and at least four lakh are expected to return. More than 80,000 people have returned in the last one month. The state was forced to take such a decision after 80 per cent of recent cases were found to be imported – people who came from abroad and other states.
Kerala was the first state to report a Covid-19 case in the country in January, but has since managed it well with high recovery and lowest mortality rates.
The state health minister has been hailed for her leadership role in effectively fighting the coronavirus pandemic.