Modi slams Kerala for delaying health insurance - GulfToday

Modi slams Kerala for delaying health insurance

Narendra Modi. File

Ashraf Padanna and AM Abdussalam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday criticised the Kerala government for delaying his flagship Ayushman Bharat, billed as the world’s largest health scheme.

Addressing his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in the temple town of Guruvayur, he said his government would not discriminate the state against for not voting for him.

The communist-ruled southern state, which boasts of best health indicators, wanted to redesign the scheme, which offers insurance cover of Rs 500,000, to suit its needs.

It signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal health authorities on Nov.2 to implement the scheme nicknamed Modicare but delayed for national elections to be over.

“Kerala government has refused to connect with Ayushman Bharat Yojana. Today I publicly request them to allow the residents of Kerala the benefits of this scheme,” he said.

Soon the state’s health minister KK Shylaja and finance minister Thomas Isaac came out against the statement saying somebody might have misled the Prime Minister.

Shylaja said the state was already a member of the scheme, launched by Modi in September, but it was not possible to implement it without any changes in Kerala.

She said the state was implementing it as Kerala Arogya Suraksha Padhathi (KASP), for which 1.7 million people had enrolled, and 146,000 of them benefited of Rs 600 million.

“Our healthcare schemes were already covering four million families, but the Ayushman Bharat wanted to limit it to 1.8 million families,” she said in New Delhi.

“It covers only the poorest of the poor. That’s why we were a little bit hesitant. I hope the PM would clear his misunderstanding and withdraw the statement.” However, Isaac said the state was in the process of rolling out the scheme after finalising the insurance company through a tendering process.

“We have picked up the insurance company, and we are going ahead with this,” he said.

Kerala recently awarded the contract to Reliance General Insurance of Anil Ambani which quoted the lowest premium, beating state-owned bidders like New India Assurance, United India Assurance and National Insurance.

Some hospitals in the state objected saying the crisis-ridden group is yet to settle their previous claims amounting to Rs 610 million.

So far, 33 of the 36 states, including the union territories with limited powers, have joined the scheme aimed at benefiting 500 million people, 15,474 hospitals empanelled, 35,706,126 electronic cards issued and 2,742,555 people availed of its benefits.

Meanwhile, Modi said he made Kerala his first stop after the landslide win despite having no member of parliament for the BJP as it was as dear to him as his Varanasi constituency.

Terming the just-concluded Lok Sabha election a “festival of democracy,” he lauded and thanked the electorate of Kerala for their contribution.

“Political parties and political pundits could not gauge people’s mood. So did those involved in conducting (poll) surveys. But people gave a strong mandate to the BJP,” he said.

“The 2019 Lok Sabha elections marked a victory for positivity and a resounding rejection of negativity. With this spirit, let us all work together to build a new India.” He was apparently responding to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who’s on a thanksgiving trip to his Wayanad constituency in Kerala, who said the BJP was spreading “hatred and intolerance.”

“Modi might have money. He might have media by his side... He might have rich friends with him, but the Congress party will continue to fight against the intolerance created by the BJP,” Gandhi had said on Friday.

“I come to Kerala with a deep sense of gratitude to the people,” he said.

“Yes, our party did not win a seat here, but I will serve the state with great vigour and deepen the bond with its wonderful citizens.” Modi chose to wear traditional Kerala dress and offered prayers at the famed Sri Krishna Temple here.

“Elections have their place in a democracy, and it is the responsibility of the inner to take care of the 130 crore people. Those who made us win or those who did not both are our (people). Kerala is as dear to me as Varanasi,” he said.

“We are not in politics to only form a government. We are here to serve the people of the country. People choose their ‘Jan Pratinidhi’ for five years, but we are ‘jan sevak,’ committed to serving the people lifelong.”