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Antony sees bid to oust him

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG. 11. The Chief Minister, Mr. A.K. Antony, has said that some forces are trying to oust his Government by creating unnecessary controversies.

Addressing a press conference here today on his return from Delhi, the Chief Minister said Cabinet notes were leaked by the Opposition. ``It was improper for the Kerala Congress(Joseph) leader, Mr. T.S. John, to have leaked the papers. It was not gentlemanly. Nor was it a very wise action,'' he said.

Mr. Antony parried questions on whether leaders in the ruling front were also trying to bring his government down.

The Chief Minister said the allegation that the Government did not grant new engineering colleges to the NSS or the SNDP was a fabricated story. They had not applied and had not figured in the list approved by the AICTE. Some people were trying to settle personal grudge by raising criticisms like that, he said in an oblique reference to the Kerala Congress(B) leader, Mr. R. Balakrishna Pillai.

Mr. Antony said he was more confident now that Kerala could be made a leading State in the South. ``Give me six months. The performance of the Government, including its financial position, will improve. After six months, I am willing to undergo a trial by you (over omissions and commissions of the Government). I have no magic wand with me. So, my request to the people is to wait for six months,'' he said.

The Chief Minister said the Vigilance inquiry into the leak of Cabinet notes was not decided by him, but by the Council of Ministers. He was not pre-judging the outcome of the inquiry. There was also no concern about the outcome. Leakage of information about Cabinet decisions was not a new thing. The inquiry was ordered just to find out who had leaked it. Once a Vigilance inquiry is ordered, it was not his practice to frequently enquire about its progress or dictate how the Vigilance should proceed with the inquiry.

The Vigilance officials had not sought permission to question the Ministers. He did not want to jump the gun by commenting on the issue of possibility of the Vigilance questioning the Ministers. When he spoke of a `thief in the ship', he meant that the one who leaked the notes should be in the Secretariat. (Mr. Antony's remark had been interpreted to mean a Minister of his Cabinet).

He said that he did not wish to enter into the legal aspects of the controversy as he had long ceased to be a lawyer. If I argue a legal case now, I would not be successful. Mr. T.S. John had played a political drama. Its legal implications, including the questions of contempt of court, would have to be examined in detail before he could comment on it. The Government needed time to decide on the minority status of the new colleges. It had allowed them to start functioning without deciding on the status for the sake of the students. If the matter was delayed, more than 2,100 students could not have missed their admissions.

Asked about the senior Congress leader, Mr. K. Karunakaran's comment that the Government should not have ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the leak, Mr. Antony said Mr. Karunakaran was free to hold his view. He was not for an infighting in the Congress over this or other issues.

He said an official team would visit Manila shortly for discussions with the Asian Development Bank on a bail-out loan from the Bank. The Government would be fully transparent about its decisions in the matter. It would see to that the employees get their bonus and festival allowance during Onam, if necessary, by availing of loans.

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