When it comes to international affairs, Kerala, especially its ruling Communists, is behind none.
Be it calling for a shutdown protesting against the execution of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein or local leaders warning Volodymyr Zelenskyy at street-corner meetings that he would face dire consequences (obviously from party members in the panchayat) if he dares to fire missiles into Russian territory.
It is not immediately known if Zelenskyy had taken the warning seriously, but the people in Kerala used to joke that the Communist parties in the state opened their umbrellas whenever it rained in Russia!
Several movies have celebrated the Communists’ “international fixation”, the prominent one being “do not utter even a word about Poland”, a final warning Comrade Prabhakaran Kottappalli (Srinivasan) issued to his brother and political rival Prakasan Kottappalli (Jayaram).
The dialogue from the 1991 movie Sandesam is still in vogue, with a news portal recently giving a headline saying, “Malayali could be referred to in Poland”, but for a different reason.
The Communists are unperturbed. State Finance Minister KN Balagopal has now announced immediate assistance of ₹10 crore to earthquake-hit Turkiye and Syria. But Balagopal well knew that the money was going nowhere.
Under the existing laws, only the Central government could engage with foreign countries.
Incidentally, the Union government had invoked the same law to reject the ₹700 crore the UAE had offered Kerala when a savage flood battered the state in 2018.
Interestingly, Balagopal had earmarked ₹2 crore for “world peace” in his previous Budget. The amount is still safe in the state’s exchequer.