Adding a new twist to the tussle between BJP and Kerala government, the UAE government has confirmed to The Indian Express that they have not officially announced any amount of aid to Kerala for the floods. The UAE government added that they have constituted an emergency committee to review the situation in the state, and organise aid and relief for it.
"The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing. Announcing any specific amount as financial aid, I don't think it is final, since it is still ongoing," UAE Ambassador Ahmed Albanna told The Indian Express. When the newspaper asked if that meant they have not announced a Rs 700 crore aid package yet, he said, "Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced."
On 21 August, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan took to Twitter to thank UAE for Rs 700 crore that they had reportedly offered the state in aid.
The chief minister had said that the crown prince of UAE Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan had called Prime Minister Modi, and offered to donate that amount for Kerala flood relief.
While Albanna didn't refute the claims directly, he told The Indian Express, "All that has happened is that UAE's Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum have formed a national emergency committee. The main goal was to look into sourcing out funds, aid material, medicines and other things for our friendly people and friends in Kerala, who have been hit by the unfortunate flood."
Following reports of UAE announcing aid to Kerala, other reports of the Centre wanting to reject it also surfaced. A senior foreign ministry official told NDTV, "If foreign aid is coming to non-profits or NGOs which are registered under the Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act (FCRA) then they will not be taxed. But if donations are received by NGOs which are not registered, then it is counted as the income of the NGO and that will be taxed."
Following these announcements, critics of the Modi government on Twitter slammed the Centre, pointing out that they have only offered Rs 600 crore in aid, whereas a foreign country has outdone it. Kerala's finance minister Thomas Issac was especially furious and lambasted the government for its alleged apathy.
Soon, pro-government Twitter handles began claiming the veracity of the Kerala CM's claims, leading to a slugfest between two sections of Twitter users.