Cong. high command for consensus on session

NEW DELHI NOV. 6. The Kerala Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, is understood to have been asked by the Congress high command to build a consensus with the allies in the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) on the issue of convening a special session of the Assembly to possibly take up a motion of confidence on his Government.

Though there was no official word from the Congress, Mr. Antony's first comments after meeting the party president, Sonia Gandhi, here today was that the issue that ought to be addressed first was whether or not to convene a special session of the Assembly. ``Since ours is a coalition Government, it cannot be a decision of the Congress alone. It has to be taken in consultation with the allies.''

However, the Chief Minister was non-committal about the agenda should the allies agree to such a session. Asked whether the confidence motion would be taken up before the Opposition-sponsored move to remove the Speaker, he said: ``First we have to decide whether or not to call a session, the agenda will be decided only later.''

In an oblique reference to Friday's meeting of allies called by the Indian Union Muslim League, Mr. Antony said the UDF constituents were discussing the issue among themselves and ``we are waiting for their view''.

Asked whether the confidence motion had come up in his discussion with Ms. Gandhi, he answered in the negative; maintaining that ``the UDF has to decide, the Congress is not ruling Kerala, the UDF is''.

About the problems in the State unit of the party, Mr. Antony was confident of the Congress weathering the crisis. ``This is not the first time there has been an infighting within the Congress. We have had such problems in the past, but once the high command takes a decision, it is accepted by all.''

While maintaining that there was no threat to his Government — as it ``enjoys a majority among the people and within the UDF'' — Mr. Antony said the crisis this time round was being fanned by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as it wanted to have Kerala in its kitty before the next Lok Sabha elections.

``The Marxists want to derail our development agenda because they fear they will be pushed out of the reckoning if we continue the path we have chosen.''

Continuing with his tirade against the CPI(M), Mr. Antony said because of his brief dalliance with the Marxists in the past, he was well aware of their ``machinations''.