Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he congratulated his friend T M Thomas Issac for, what he sarcastically said, taking over as "Finance Minister of Somalia".
Modi had compared the infant mortality rate among tribals in Kerala with that of African country Somalia during the election campaign rally, which triggered widespread criticism from political parties in the state.
Ramesh said he made a phone call to Issac soon after he saw reports that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to give the crucial Finance Ministry portfolio to the Communist Party of India-Marxist leader, who is also an economist.
"I called Issac and congratulated him on taking over as Finance Minister of 'Somalia'. He had a hearty laugh and said Modi's comment was an insult to all Malayalees," the former Union minister told PTI.
Both the Congress and the CPI-M had flayed the prime minister for not withdrawing his controversial remarks that "the situation with the child death ratio among Scheduled Tribes in Kerala is scarier than even Somalia."
During his conversation with Issac, Ramesh also took a dig at factionalism in the CPI-M, telling him to keep an eye on V S Achuthanandan whom a ceremonial title of 'Kerala's Fidel Castro' was awarded by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
"I told Issac watch out for Fidel Castro and G Sudhakaran," the Congress leader said.
Sudhakaran, considered to be a rival of Issac in the CPI-M in Alappuzha district, is the new Kerala Public Works Department Minister.