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Congress leaders lash out at VS

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, APRIL 21. Several Congress leaders have come out sharply against the Leader of the Opposition, V. S. Achuthanandan, for his statements referring to a possible split in the United Democratic Front after elections.

In a statement here today, the Cultural Affairs Minister, G. Karthikeyan, termed Mr. Achuthanandan's statement as an attempt to prevent the erosion of the Left Democratic Front's support. He said that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders have been dreaming of a split in the UDF and the Congress for quite some time now. There were certain differences in the Congress party, but this was now a closed chapter. The LDF and the Marxist leaders had dreamt of toppling the UDF Government by taking advantage of the differences in the Congress, he said.

If one were to examine the history of the past two-and-a-half decades, it could be seen that more parties and leaders had left the LDF and joined the UDF. Many left the LDF because they could not tolerate the big brother attitude of the CPI (M), while the UDF has been treating these leaders and parties with the respect they were entitled to, Mr. Karthikeyan said.

Mr. Karthikeyan regretted that a leader of Mr. Achuthanandan's stature should have used denigrating language against the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony. "Political leaders should be role models for the people. Only those who maintain high cultural standards in their language would be able to command the respect of the people. Maintaining such standards was imperative for a vibrant democratic system," he said.

Mr. Antony had only expressed his political opinion about the CPI (M) and a leader like Mr. Achuthanandan, who had risen from the Marxist ranks, should not have made such observations against a leader like Mr. Antony.

The KPCC general secretary, Joseph Vazhakkan, who is also in charge of the KPCC office, said that Mr. Achuthanandan had made such observations in order to hide his party's embarrassment at its failure to split the Congress and to mislead his party's rank and file.

He said that the LDF had considered its strength in the Assembly coming to 40 MLAs as a deposit for the formation of an alternative government. The Marxist leaders, after having given hope for an alternative government and after discussing the issue from the politburo to the local committee level, were finding it difficult to explain their stand to their rank and file, he added. He wanted the Opposition leader to withdraw his statement in the interest of decency in public life.

The Finance Minister, K. Sankaranarayanan, today came down heavily against the Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, for his rather denigrating references against the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony.

Addressing the zonal conference of the NGO Association here today, Mr. Sankaranarayanan said that political leaders should face criticisms politically instead of indulging in vilification of their political opponents.

He said that the CPI(M) leaders in Kerala did not have any thing to say against the decision of the party's Government in West Bengal to promote industrial investments by multinational corporations.

Referring to the Vision 2020 document published by the West Bengal Government, he said that the CPI(M) and the LDF it leads, were opposed to the development initiatives undertaken by the UDF. He wanted the CPI(M) leadership to explain why it was adopting different standards for Bengal and Kerala.

He said that the Congress had always got the support of the NSS from the days of the great leader, Mannath Padmanabhan. "We had never hesitated to acknowledge the everlasting contributions of the NSS, SNDP, MES and the Christian missionaries towards Kerala's progress. The UDF had always got the support of the current NSS leadership under P.K. Narayana Panicker and N. Sukumaran Nair. And we would not hesitate in seeking the organisation's help in the coming days," he said and added that neither he nor any of the UDF leaders were in the practice of meeting social leaders behind the curtains.

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