Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said that the police force in the State and contingents of police personnel available from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are sufficient for the law and order duties during the local body elections in the State being held in two phases.

Addressing a meet-the-Press held at the Press Club here on Tuesday, Mr. Balakrishnan said that the State government had requested for police personnel from the two neighbouring States for the election duties. The State police force and the personnel available from the neighbouring States would be adequate for ensuring smooth election, he said adding that the State government would not be hesitant to requisition the Central forces if the situation in the State warranted their deployment.

Terming the United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders’ demand for Central forces in this district during the election as a propaganda ploy, Mr. Balakrishnan, who is also member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau, said that such a propaganda was now no longer being taken seriously even by the UDF workers. He said that the Central forces including the Army had already been busy with law and order duties in Jammu and Kashmir.

The UDF leadership citing the unopposed election of LDF candidates in several wards in local bodies should remember that only 22 candidates here were unopposed in this election as against 49 candidates in 2005 when the UDF government was in power, the Minister said. To a question on Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s statement that there were some shortcomings on the part of the State government in the lottery issue, Mr. Balakrishnan said that the Chief Minister had only re-iterated that the government would take strong action in the lottery issue. The Minister said that the government would act within the purview of the Central act regulating the lotteries. Urging the Central government to take action against other State lotteries, he said that a high-level meeting scheduled on October 20 would take a decision on this issue. Stating that the Central government had all the powers to ban the other State lotteries, he said that the Chief Minister was just asking the Centre for such an action.

Dwelling on the ongoing debate on whether or not religion could meddle in politics, Mr. Balakrishnan said that Union Minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar’s Ravi’s reported statement that religion could intervene in politics was against the secular principles that the Constitution upholds. Mr. Ravi had no right to continue as Minister with his un-Constitutional stand, he said urging the Congress leadership to respond to the issue. According to Mr. Balakrishnan, the UDF’s approach favouring religious intervention in political affairs was part of its willingness to secure support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Popular Front of India (PFI) to defeat the LDF in the local body election. The BJP had not fielded its candidates in 13,000-odd local body wards in the State and it had no candidates in 77 of the total 332 district panchayat divisions, Mr. Balakrishnan said adding that the party had not let it be known yet what stand it would take in these places. The Social Democratic Party of India sponsored by the PFI was contesting in 2538 wards, he said and pointed out that it was getting support from the UDF.

The argument that religion could intervene in politics would only strengthen the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) whose goal was to turn India into a theocratic state. Attacks on minority communities in Gujarat and Orissa had been the outcome of such an intervention, he added. He also said that the UDF’s attempt to seek the support of a section of Christians by supporting the argument that religion could meddle in politics faced a setback after the Pastoral Council had opposed it.

Confident that the LDF’s performance in the local body election this time would be better than its tally in 2005, Mr. Balakrishnan said that the people’s verdict would be different from that in the last Lok Sabha polls in the State. Anti-people policies of the Central government such as fuel price hike and the pro-people measures of the LDF government were the factors that would make the people’s verdict favourable to the LDF in the local body election, he pointed out.

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