United Democratic Front (UDF) convener P.P. Thankachen has said that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was raking up a controversy over the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement just to divert attention of the public from other issues.
Interacting with the media here on Friday, Mr. Thankachen said the CPI (M) and its allies were levelling baseless allegations on the FTA just because they did not have the courage to face the public on issues that have more relevance in the State during the forthcoming Assembly by-elections. There is no need for the FTA to be an issue during the by-poll since this would be more of an assessment of the performance of the State Government and not the Central Government.
It was very clear that a negative list of items that had restrictions on import into India existed in connection with the FTA, however, the CPI (M) was arguing that such a list did not exist just to create confusion among the public, he said.
In a separate press conference, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president P.K. Krishnadas said the FTA deal would break the backbone of the agricultural sector in the State. The impact of the deal would be known immediately after it came into vogue, he said.
Mr. Krishnadas also said that it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and not Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy, who should clarify about the existence or non-existence of a negative list in connection with the FTA.
Citing reports on bogus voters and electoral roll malpractice in the Alappuzha and Kannur Assembly constituencies, the BJP chief said the UDF and the LDF were both trying to sabotage the elections by resorting to such tactics.
Both the fronts were scared of facing the public since the performances of the State and Central Governments were below average and that was they were adding bogus voters, he alleged.