To wait for draft notification on Western Ghats

Dropping clear indications that it was not ready to break its alliance with the Congress, the Kerala Congress (M) made it clear that it would wait in good faith for the issuance of the notification bringing in changes to the recommendations of the Kasturirangan committee on Western Ghats.

The party, however, called off its proposed bilateral talks with the Congress since the leadership felt that the exercise would be futile since there was no finality on the issuance of the draft notification.

KC (M) leader and Finance Minister K.M. Mani said that he had requested the Congress leaders to reschedule the bilateral talks, which will now be held in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. He said he had spoken to Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran on the issue, prior to his decision to wait for a couple of days more.

The whole of this week, the KC (M) leaders took belligerent positions setting the issuance of the draft notification as a condition for even continuing in the ruling coalition. The rift in the KC (M) added to the woes of Mr. Mani, who, goaded by the leaders close to P.J. Joseph, seemed to be sliding into an open confrontation with the Congress leaders.

The high voltage pressure for the notification was also tied to the Kerala Congress (M) demand for the Idukki seat, which the Congress was not ready to give up. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala went on a troubleshooting mission to Delhi to expedite the issuance of the draft notification.

The draft notification could not be issued on Friday belying Mr. Chennithala’s promise.

The change of heart was apparently prompted by the decision of a meeting of Catholic Bishops in Kochi to tone down the agitation against the Kasturirangan report so as not to complicate matters for the UDF.

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