At a time when Congress is all out to puncture BJP's claim over Gujarat model of development, a group of legislators led by senior ministers from Congress- ruled Kerala are visiting the Narendra Modi state next week to study urban development initiatives undertaken there.
The tour of the legislators is being organised by Kerala Legislative Assembly Subject Committee on Local Administration, Rural Development and Housing, in which legislators from Congress, CPI (M), Muslim League, Kerala Congress-Mani, CPI and National Secular Conference are members.
The 11-member team headed by state Rural Development Minister K C Joseph, Finance Minister K M Mani, Urban and Minority Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali and Panchayat and Social Welfare Minister M K Muneer will reach Surat on December 12 where it will hold discussions with state government officials on implementation of sewage system in the city.
While Joseph is a senior Congress leader, Mani is the head of the Kerala Congress (Mani), a minority Christian offshoot and key ally of Kerala's ruling United Democratic Front (UDF). Both Ali and Muneer belong to Muslim League.
K Achuthan (Congress), C Mammootty (Muslim League), P T A Rahim (National Secular Conference), V Sivankutty, P Sreemakrishnan, K V Vijayadas (CPI-M) and E K Vijayan (CPI) are also part of the committee.
According to the schedule, the legislators will also visit "some places of tourist importance" in Surat before heading for New Delhi the next day.
The senior leaders' tour to Gujarat to study its urban development initiatives comes days after Congress released a 32-page document carrying statistics about Gujarat's performance on various paradigms. Union Minister Kapil Sibal had called Modi's state as "most indebted state of India".
Kerala had witnessed a political storm some months ago over state Labour Minister Shibu Baby John's meeting with Modi in Ahmedabad on April 18 on the sidelines of a function.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who came under attack from the Left parties, had said the visit did not have his permission and sought an explanation from John, an RSP-B leader, who later apologised.
In 2009, the CPI (M) had expelled party MP A P Abdullakutty for making public his view that Modi should be taken as a model for his works for the development of Gujarat.
Abdullakutty later joined Congress and was elected as MLA from Kannur Assembly seat.
Kerala's Sree Narayana Mutt's invitation to Modi as chief guest at a function in Shivgiri in April this year was criticised by both Congress and the CPI (M).
While top CPI-M leader V S Achuthanandan had boycotted the function, party State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had attacked the Mutt for rolling out the red carpet for the Gujarat Chief Minister.
During the Left rule, a proposal to make Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador for Kerala Tourism had to be shelved as the Bollywood star happens to endorse Gujarat tourism.