Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 2 (IANS) The ruling Congress and opposition CPI-M in Kerala are squabbling over the state government awarding projects to Congress-created women's group Janasree instead of state agency Kudumbashree backed by the Marxist party.
Thousands of Kudumbashree members Tuesday assembled in front of the state secretariat to start an indefinite protest in the presence of former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who is also the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader.
They are demanding that the Oommen Chandy-led government withdraw the sanction of three agriculture and two animal husbandry projects to Janasree along with a Rs.14.36 crore fund without awarding any project to Kudumbashree.
Achuthanandan said Kudumbashree was formed 14 years ago to socially empower women and seeing its success, the programme was replicated in other parts of the country.
"Kudumbashree activists are now into numerous activities like farming and agriculture and this growth appears to have left the Congress jealous," he said.
"To counter this, the Congress floated Janasree and put Rs.14 crore in the pocket of Congress leader M.M. Hassan (who heads Janasree) by ignoring Kudumbashree," he said.
"Chandy, please correct your wrong and take the money that has been given to Janasree and give it to Kudumbashree," he said.
"If not, these women who are now staying put here will have no other option other than marching to your residence. Please remember the Left movement is fully behind the Kudumbashree activists," he said.
Kudumbashree has become one of the largest women's movement in Asia with a membership of close to four million in Kerala. It has been built on three components -- micro credit, entrepreneurship and empowerment.
The Congress, seeing the success of Kudumbashree and the inroads CPI-M has made into it, during the previous regime (2001-06) formed Janasree and made former minister M.M. Hassan its chairman.
Hassan said the CPI-M had had hijacked Kudumbashree and was spreading canards against Janasree.
"What Janasree got was through a proper way, after submission of project reports. If Kudumbashree had done it, it too would have got it. Why should we be blamed for it?" he said.
Chandy said his government had done more for Kudumbashree than the previous Left government and would continue to nurture the state agency.
"All those who level allegations against Janasree should come forward and prove it. Janasree is a self-help organisation and Hassan is only a shareholder. It is one of the many organisations that gets aid from the centre," he said.