Kerala CM to hold talks to break deadlock over Kitex business group issue
Thiruvananthapuram, July 3, 2021
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has finally decided to intervene after one of Kerala's biggest industrial groups, Kitex, which had announced the cancellation of its Rs 3,500 crore investment in the state, received a red carpet welcome from the Tamil Nadu government.
State BJP President K. Surendran is the latest to join the issue, saying that all talk of Kerala being the most favourable destination are nothing but hypocrisy, as the biggest opposition to the smooth growth of industries is the CPI-M, and the talk of the Vijayan government giving a red carpet welcome to business investment is only on paper.
The pressure on the state government has been mounting from various quarters, including millionaire businessman and owner of Lulu supermarket chain, M. K. Yusuf Ali, who on Saturday asked the Vijayan government to initiate a discussion to see that under no circumstances Kitex is allowed to drop its Kerala expansion plan and move out to some other state.
State Industries Minister P. Rajiv, who hails from Ernakulam, the business headquarters of the Kitex group, said on Saturday that things are moving forward and the Chief Minister has called a high-level meeting of top bureaucrats to discuss the issue, which will take place on Monday.
Kitex Chairman Sabu Jacob reacted by saying that he is willing to go to any extent to resolve the issue, but before that strong action should be taken against the state government officials who have been haunting them for a while now.
"Seventy-six cases have been registered against us by the labour department and I can prove that not a single case can be charged against me. I have done no wrong and I am willing to come to take part in a discussion, but before that tough action should be taken against the erring government officials, who have been haunting our establishments," Jacob said.
Kitex Garments, the second-largest children's apparel manufacturer in the world, has announced the scrapping of the Rs 3,500 crore project for which it had signed a memorandum with the Kerala government at the "Ascend Global Investors Meet" in Kochi in January 2020.
As part of the project, an apparel park was to be opened in Kochi, besides the establishment of industrial parks in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Palakkad.
Kitex fell on the wrong side of the political establishment in Kerala after Jacob floated a political outfit named Twenty 20 -- which was earlier registered as a non-profit organization -- and wrested power in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam district.
In the recent Assembly elections, Twenty 20 contested six seats but could not win any.
Jacob has gone on record to state that the Kerala government is not providing any subsidy, including for power, noting that it is all profit for the state government and there is no professional interest being envisaged by it.
He had also said that things are at the mercy of the local level leaders here, and even an upper division clerk in the state can scuttle the prospects of an industrialist.
Kerala is lagging behind in industrial growth and the attitude of the rulers and the bureaucracy is the reason behind this, he had said.
Jacob and his establishment saw 11 teams of officers from various departments raiding the company in the past one month. The company employees were also grilled for hours.
It was then that Jacob had announced that he will move out of the state, following which came the offer from the Tamil Nadu government, along with five other states of the country.
Now all eyes are on Monday's meeting called by Vijayan.