“Drubbing will help parties gear up for ‘finals’”
Kerala Congress (M) chairman and Finance Minister K.M. Mani has said the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) should be an eye-opener for all political parties as they have given voice to the voiceless.
Speaking to journalists here on Friday, Mr. Mani said the voters’ verdict in the Assembly elections in the four north Indian States could not be seen as the verdict of the imminent Lok Sabha elections.
The AAP victory should be a wake-up call and the Congress party has rise to the occasion, he said. “The party should do its homework; then the outcome of the upcoming elections will be different,” Mr. Mani said. The Minister said ‘the semi-final’ verdict might have gone against the United Progressive Alliance, and the Congress might have tasted defeat, but the drubbing would help the party gear up for the ‘finals’.
Responding to a question, Mr. Mani said all the constituents of the UDF had the ability to win elections in their strongholds. “However, none of them will garner enough seats to form the government on their own. The age of single party rule is over,” he said.
To another question, he said there was anti-incumbency sentiment in certain quarters. “However, by and large, there is no anti-government sentiment among the people.” Referring to controversies over the P.C. George issue, Mr. Mani said Mr. George had been asked not to cast aspersions on leaders of the party or the UDF. He said a three-member committee had looked into the complaints and sent a letter to Mr. George.
“Now, it was up to the party to look into the matter and review the situation. There are no discordant notes, only differing opinions in the party.” However, when the party takes a stance there would only be one opinion. When his attention was brought to the not so restrained reaction by Mr. George after the letter given to him, Mr. Mani said it was not a case of acting as a “headmaster and primary students” as Mr. George made it out to be. “A political party has to maintain its discipline,” he said.
The Kerala Congress (M) chief did not think there is a challenge from within the UDF to the party’s sitting MP from Kottayam Jose K. Mani. “He will be a candidate of not only the Kerala Congress (M), but also the UDF.”
He said the UDF had always stood with the farmers. Issues concerning the farm sector had been taken up with the Central government which is likely to take immediate action.
On the issue of the falling price of natural rubber, he said the party wanted a ban on rubber imports immediately. It also wanted the import duty on rubber to be raised from the present Rs.20 a kg to 20 per cent of the market price.
Mr. Mani welcomed the views expressed by a homemaker in Thiruvananthapuram against the LDF activists whose laid a siege on the Cliff House and obstructed free movement of the public. “I am proud that the protest has come from an ordinary homemaker, who is now acting as a corrective force,” he said.