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UDF has not weakened, says Oommen Chandy

Special Correspondent

`No constituent of the UDF is above the coalition'



IN A JOVIAL MOOD: The Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, and the Karnataka Chief Minister, Dharam Singh, at a conference of Indian Chief Ministers on Internal Security and Law and Order, in New Delhi on Friday.

NEW DELHI: The Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, today warded off criticism of the ruling coalition in the State weakening under his command by citing the plugging of leaks of Cabinet discussions in the last six months as evidence to the contrary.

Fielding questions on the recent political developments in the State during a brief interaction with the media here, he said: "Has what transpired in a Cabinet meeting been written about in newspapers after I took charge?'' Refusing to speculate on whether the constituents of the United Democratic Front (UDF) - which have either left or been kept out of his Government - were responsible for the leaks, Mr. Chandy said: "For the past several years - be it during the Left Democratic Front rule or in the earlier UDF dispensation - Cabinet discussions were written about in great detail the very next day in newspapers.''

The Chief Minister attributed this change to his decision not to take on board two UDF constituents - Kerala Congress (Jacob) and Kerala Congress (B) - last year. "They openly campaigned against the coalition in the Lok Sabha elections. By keeping them out, the message went out that no constituent of the UDF was above the coalition and such behaviour will not be tolerated.''

Also, Mr. Chandy sought to clarify that he had never said the veteran Congressman K. Karunakaran could leave the party if he so desired as was reported by television channels all through the day today. According to him, there was no question of recommending disciplinary action against a senior leader of the stature of Mr. Karunakaran. As to what he would do should Mr. Karunakaran decide to leave the Congress, the Chief Minister's response was: "What can I do?''

Unwilling to speculate on whether a split in the Kerala unit of the Congress was imminent after the expulsion of the former KPCC president, K. Muraleedharan, the Chief Minister said: "What will happen tomorrow in politics can never be said with any measure of certainty. Just wait and watch. Anyway, Mr. Karunakaran has given us a lot of time.''

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