Staff Reporter

PERUNNA: Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony has called for a controversy-free year in the State. Speaking at the 130th Mannam Jayanthy celebrations at the headquarters of the Nair Service Society (NSS) here, Mr. Antony said the State was in the forefront of controversies but at the tail end when it came to development.

Time had come for all to look around and see how other States were faring in the area of development, he said and called upon all to put an end to unnecessary controversies and join together in the interests of the State.

Mannathu Padmanabhan was in the forefront of the renaissance that Kerala society had undergone during the last century, Mr. Antony said and added that his life and works were not confined to his community alone, but encompassed the entire society.

Through his contributions to movements like the Vaikom Satyagraha and Guruvayur Satyagraha, Mannathu Padmanabhan contributed to the social emancipation of backward communities and those who were considered `untouchables' by the forward communities.

Mr. Antony said his vision helped his community to build up a string of educational institutions, which catered to the needs of society. The education sector was passing through unprecedented changes and the challenge before the present leadership was to build new generation educational institutions, which would cater to the needs of the younger generation.

NSS president P.V. Neelakanta Pillai presided over the function. General secretary P.K. Narayana Panicker welcomed the gathering. K. Suresh Kurup, MP, V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University, M.K. Ramachandran, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala University, and Savithri Laxman, former MP, spoke. G. Sukumaran Nair, assistant secretary, NSS, proposed a vote of thanks.

An array of UDF leaders including KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, Kerala Congress(Jacob) leader T.M. Jacob, Kerala Congress(M) leaders Thomas Chazhikkadan and Joseph M. Puthussery, Kerala Congress(Joseph) leader P.C. Thomas, MP, P.J. Kurian, MP, MLAs Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, K.Sankaranarayanan, K.C. Venugopal, M.A. Vahid, George Mercier, N.Jayaraj, M. Murali, Thomas Chandy, P.C. Vishnunath and others were present.