Special Correspondent

Says it is his party that gave his son ticket

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Janata Dal (Secular) State president M. P. Veerendrakumar has strongly denied the allegation that he was grooming his son M.V. Shreyamskumar in politics after having all along campaigned against `family politics'.

Participating in a `meet-the-press' programme, organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalists' Trust here on Saturday, Mr. Veerendrakumar said he was not indulging in `family politics' and that his son was in politics in his own right as the fourth generation politician from his family. "I have not promoted him. He has been given the ticket to contest in the election by the party," Mr. Veerendrakumar said and pointed out that his son was contesting in a pro-UDF constituency in Wayanad.

He also clarified that he and other leaders of the party had tried to give a honourable exit to A. Neelalohithadasan Nadar, who was convicted in two sexual harassment cases.

His name was proposed for the Kovalam Assembly constituency on the express condition that he would quit the fray on his own.

However, Mr. Nadar chose to remain in the fray and this forced the party to remove him from the party and field a new candidate, the Janata Dal leader explained.

Asked how the party could have fielded a Congressman in place of Mr. Nadar, Mr. Veerendrakumar said though he had contested in the last local body elections as a Congress candidate, he had joined the Janata Dal and he is contesting the election as a party candidate. There was nothing unusual about this as even a person like V. P. Singh was in the Congress before he joined the Janata Dal.

Replying to questions, he also made it clear that his party had nothing to do with the national outfit by the same name. The party had decided to sever its links with the national outfit after H. D. Kumara Swamy had decided to ally with the BJP to form a Government in Karanataka, he pointed out.

Mr. Veerendrakumar came down heavily on the UDF Government for what he termed its insensitivity towards issues affecting the State vis-à-vis the World Trade Organisations (WTO).

Although the WTO Ministerial is scheduled to clinch issues relating to Quantitative Restrictions on agricultural imports by June, the State Government has done nothing to ensure that its concerns find a place in the presentation to be made by the Indian delegation.

He also pointed out that though the panel of secretaries constituted to draw up the list of agricultural produces that should enjoy protection under the WTO regime comprised five Keralites, not a single item from Kerala has been included in the list.

The State Government did not care to submit even a memorandum before the panel of secretaries, he alleged.

Mr. Veerendrakumar said, if elected to power, the LDF would constitute a permanent machinery to monitor WTO-related issues in agriculture.