Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged his Cabinet colleagues to 'get down to work' immediately after their portfolios were announced. Heeding his advice 60-year-old V Muraleedharan, who was appointed as the Minister of State for External Affairs and for Parliamentary Affairs, assumed office within hours of his induction into the NDA II ministry.
The Rajya Sabha MP from Maharasthra is the third BJP minister from Kerala after O Rajagopal and Alphons Kannanthanam.
The party has placed on me a huge responsibility, he noted. In an interview after taking charge, he also talked about the issues concerning the Indian diaspora that require urgent attention and the importance of getting the Centre and the state administrations to work in tandem as his main tasks as minister.
Excerpts from an interview:
Kerala, which has a huge population working abroad, will be monitoring closely your performance as the minister of State for External Affairs. You will be working under a Cabinet minister who has broad experience in foreign affairs and migration issues. What are your expectations?
No doubt, the portfolio carries massive responsibilities. Kerala has a huge migrant population. Gulf Malayalees have been complaining about the steep hike in airfares during vacations and the Ramadan season. Our immediate focus will be on addressing this issue.
Job security is one of the major concerns for expatriate employees. How are you going deal with this issues?
The MADAD (help) portal launched by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) provides a platform for Indian citizens living abroad to file consular grievances online. As I was on the Standing Committee for External Affairs, I have a clear idea about the issues faced by expatriates. Recently, 52 Keralites got stranded in Dubai after the company which employed them ceased operations. When the issue was brought to my attention, I immediately contacted the then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. The Indian Consulate intervened and issued outpasses to all of them to ensure their safe return.