Modi's comparison of Kerala with Somalia backfires

Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have scored an own goal by comparing Kerala to Somalia as one of the worst states in terms of development and law and order during his campaign in the state.

His comparison of Kerala with Somalia in terms of Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) while addressing an election rally in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, has created ripples in the social media with people mocking and satirising his poor knowledge of the state and his lack of sensitivity towards the achievements it has made in human development in the last 60 years.

Modi has questioned the very achievements that have made Keralites proud all over the world. He has compared Kerala, which has the lowest IMR of 12 in India, with Somalia, which has a very high IMR of 137. His comments are based on an image carried by the media in which a couple of boys belonging to a scheduled tribe were shown eating out of a waste dump in Kannur district.

The state government had already clarified that the boys were among a group of a students in a school at Peravoor who were in the habit of skipping classes and collecting scraps to get food of their liking from hotels.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy said there was no need for anybody in the state to eat stale food since his government has been providing rice at Rs1 per kg to people living below the poverty line and mid-day meals, which include egg and milk, to more than 25 lakh students.

He termed Modi's remark as an insult to Kerala and asked him to withdraw the statement.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury termed Modi's comparison of Kerala with Somalia outrageous. He said even school children know that Kerala tops the country in human development indicators.

Kapil Sibal, All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesman, said tongue in cheek that Modi had compared Kerala with Somalia as he had not visited the sub-Saharan country so far. He urged the external affairs ministry to arrange a visit of the Prime Minister to Somalia to get a clear view of the situation in the country.

The Prime Minister did not make any attempt even to clarify his controversial statement in his last election meeting in the state on Wednesday. On the contrary, Modi questioned the wisdom of the educated Keralites in electing the Left front and the Congress to power alternately while addressing his last election meeting at Tripunithura.

Earlier, Malayalis from across the world trolled Modi on Twitter under #PoMoneModi, which is a popular movie reference that literally means ''go back, son''. The Twitteratti predicted doom for the BJP in the election on 16 May for hurting the Malayali pride.