KERALA

Choice of candidates final: Antony

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM APRIL. 9. The Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, said here on Wednesday that the Congress high command had taken the final decision to field Vayalar Ravi and Thennala Balakrishna Pillai themselves as the party's candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections.

Talking to presspersons after a Cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister said his Cabinet faced no threat on account of the issue. The expectations of the Opposition about a split in the party and fall of the Government were all daydreams. The victory of the rebel candidate, Kodoth Govindan Nair, was impossible, he said.

Mr. Antony said Congressmen knew how bad it is to be in alliance with the CPI(M). He himself had the experience of having to quit the LDF in 1982. So, the Opposition dream of forming a Government after the collapse of the present Government would just be that--a daydream.

He continued that the problem over nomination of candidates was not unusual in the Congress. Cabinet decisions: He said the distribution of 1,600 acres of land to tribals would begin in Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram and other districts from next week.

The Government would stand guarantee for a Rs. 29-loan to be availed for the construction of the bridges to Goshree islands and the interest on it.

About 600 more women would be recruited to the police as constables. This was part of the plan to increase the proportion of women in the force to 10 per cent.

He said a police official of the rank of the Deputy Inspector General would inquire into complaints about beating up of many presspersons by the police recently. The Government was of the view that the police should not cause obstruction to the functioning of the journalists.

On the High Court cancelling the no-objection certificates issued by the Government for new B.Ed. colleges, the Chief Minister said the Government would abide by the order of the High Court. NOCs would be issued after reviewing each application as directed by the court. The Cabinet had not decided on going on appeal against the court order restraining the Government from holding a vigilance inquiry against two private medical colleges.

He said the Cabinet had discussed restoring of some of the benefits enjoyed by the Government employees. However, more discussions were needed. The Government would do whatever was possible. However, the employees should not have high expectations in this regard.

He said that while the Government did not justify violence to prevent the sale of products of British and American companies, it considered protests against war in Iraq as natural. The blatant invasion of Iraq by the United States and Britain was unjustifiable. If other countries followed the example of America, there would be wars all over the world.

He added that though Iraq suffered now, the United States and Britain would be the ultimate casualties.