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Chandy for stringent action to weed out extremists

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Ooman Chandy
Ooman Chandy

Special Correspondent

Blames politicisation of police for growth of religious extremism

CHENNAI: Leader of the Opposition in Kerala and former Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, on Monday called for stringent police action and a vigilant society to weed out extremist elements from the State.

Addressing journalists at an interaction hosted by the Tamil Nadu unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists here, he advocated a concerted crackdown similar to that adopted by K. Karunakaran when he was Home Minister in the early 1970s to eliminate extremist camps that had proliferated in Kerala.

Asked whether he was justifying the episodes of police brutality associated with that period, Mr. Chandy said that if public perception of the police action was so harsh, they would never have voted the UDF back to power.

Mr. Chandy blamed blatant politicisation of the police for religious extremism gaining ground in Kerala. Only stringent police measures backed by a vigilant society could weed out these threats. “Now the efficiency and credibility of the police force is at an all-time low, and the State is paying a heavy price for this.”

Mr. Chandy charged the LDF government, led by V. S. Achuthanandan, with failing to deliver on any of its manifesto promises.

According to Mr. Chandy, “comprehensive failure” of the LDF government on all fronts — whether in controlling prices or maintaining law and order — was not just an Opposition viewpoint; in fact, a harsh criticism of the government’s performance had surfaced among the constituents of the LDF and within the CPI (M).

Pointing out that affordable rice and other essentials and a peaceful life were basic aspirations of people, Mr. Chandy alleged that the government had failed on both counts. “When vegetables go scarce, people expect the government to effectively intervene and bring about results. Instead of attributing the shortage to the rain in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, an effective government should be sourcing commodities from alternative markets.”

Claiming that as Opposition, the UDF adopted a style different to the obstructionist approach of its opponents, Mr. Chandy said the Congress-led coalition had joined the all-party delegation that went to Delhi recently to ask the Centre to restore Kerala the full share of rice from the Central pool. However, the Union government was helpless, as the Central pool had been whittled down with many major rice-producing States failing to contribute the expected volumes of grain.

On the UDF’s chances in the next Lok Sabha elections due next year, Mr. Chandy said the UDF stood as a united house and was confident of “facing and winning an election at any point of time.”

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