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Return to Congress fold, Antony tells Karunakaran

Special Correspondent

`New party not getting a good deal from CPI(M)'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress Working Committee Member A. K. Antony appears to be ploughing a lonely furrow when it comes to the question of the former Congress veteran K. Karunakaran's return to the Congress fold. Knowing fully well that he was alone on this issue, Mr. Antony once again made an appeal to Karunakaran and his men to return home. Addressing presspersons soon after moving into his new office in the KPCC, Mr. Antony pointed out that Karunakaran and his men, had they continued in the party, would have had a major say in seat sharing and would have taken away more than 50 per cent. However, the new party was forced to run from one CPI (M) office to another seeking seats to contests.

"In the next round that is due prior to the Assembly elections, it would be far more difficult for the new party to make headway," Mr. Antony said. Congressmen with any self-respect should reconsider the move to align with the CPI (M) he said. He recalled how the Leader of the Opposition V. S. Achuthanandan had talked about the "40-member deposit" with the CPI(M) and its futile attempts to topple his Government with the support of the rebels in the Congress. The CPI (M) had given a blank cheque, but unfortunately today the DIC is in a position to get only 10 to 12 per cent of the seats to contest, he said.

In reply to a question, he said he was speaking from experience of his association with the CPI (M). He said that Mr. Kadannapally Ramachandran had a very important position in Congress, particularly in Malabar. The CPI (M) used him and did not hesitate to dump him when he was no use to the party. He said that an alliance between Congress and the CPI(M) in Kerala and West Bengal was impossible. It was a different matter in Delhi, he said.

The main issue that would figure in the election would be the UDF and LDF's approach towards decentralised administration. He said that the LDF had failed to devolve powers to the local bodies other than what had been done during his Chief Ministership in 1995.

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