Oommen Chandy's mass contact gets pat on back from High Court

Kochi, Dec 12 : The Kerala High Court Thursday made a complimentary observation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's mass contact programme in different districts, at which the grievances of common people are heard.

Since the chief minister seldom leaves a mass contact programme without meeting the last person present, these functions sometimes go on for about 18 hours at a stretch. The chief minister listens to the problems of people, and can often instruct officials then and there about means to resolve these issues.

Many of the people who arrive at the venue of the mass contact programme speak of troubles in getting financial assistance or ration cards. Some complain of changes in assessing people and slotting them as either above or below the poverty line.

A division bench of the high court hearing a private petition said Thursday that the attitude of bureaucrats needs to change, and they need to show some gratitude for the salary they earn.

"The reason the chief minister has to go to the people with this programme is because the government staff just do not do their job at all and they have the least commitment," said the division bench of Justice B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Babu Mathew P. Joseph.

At the time that the court made these remarks, Chandy was away at a mass contact programme in Kollam district, attending to the grievances of a few thousand men and women.

Incidentally, the mass contact programme was launched by Chandy in 2004, in his earlier term as the chief minister.

In 2006, when the Left assumed power and V.S. Achuthanandan was the chief minister, the mass contact programme was discontinued.

On Chandy's return as the chief minister in 2011, the initiative was restored.

Last year, Chandy won a UN award for the mass contact programme.

The programme is conducted in each of the state's 14 districts in turn. The last of such programmes will be held in Kannur Wednesday.

The Left opposition has belittled the programme, saying such contact should be done by a village officer, not the chief minister.

Incidentally, at the mass contact programme in Pathanamthitta district last month, a Left supporter who was shouting slogans against Chandy in the morning was caught on camera in the evening, appearing before the chief minister with his grievances.

--IANS (Posted on 13-12-2013)

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