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Antony echoes Deve Gowda’s view, rules out midterm polls in State

Thursday 18 August 2005

Special Correspondent

`Congress too is committed to smooth running of coalition Government’

Congress to ensure that all issues with Janata Dal (Secular) are settled amicably Antony to submit a report to Sonia Gandhi on the state of affairs in Karnataka Performance of Congress Ministers to be reviewed next month

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MAKING A POINT: Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President M. Mallikarjun Kharge (centre) having a word with A.K. Antony, AICC General Secretary in-charge of the State, in Bangalore on Wednesday. AICC member Irshad Baig is at left. - Photo : V. Sreenivasa Murthy

BANGALORE: A.K. Antony, All-India Congress Committee General Secretary in-charge of the State, has ruled out midterm elections in the State and echoed Janata Dal (Secular) President H.D. Deve Gowda by stating that the Congress too is equally committed to the smooth running of the coalition Government. Mr. Gowda had said that his party will not disturb the coalition set-up.

Mr. Antony told The Hindu on Wednesday that he is in Bangalore on a mission to find solutions to intra-party differences in the Congress and inter-party differences between the coalition partners. How could there be midterm elections when legislators are against it? Whatever be the differences between the coalition partners, "we do not want to rock the boat," he said.

Mr. Antony said the Congress will work within certain parameters and ensure that all issues with the Janata Dal (Secular) are settled amicably. The relationship between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) is good at the top level (between Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Deve Gowda) and that should percolate to all levels. The Congress High Command took a conscientious decision to join hands with the Janata Dal (Secular) and the party stands by the agreement, he added.

The former Kerala Chief Minister, who is expected to submit a report to the Congress President on the state of affairs in Karnataka said, the coalition partners, which fought the 2004 Assembly elections against each other, came to an understanding out of certain political compulsions to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of the reckoning. Towards that end it is imperative for the two parties to have a proper working understanding at all levels. The Congress is striving to achieve it by constituting coordination committees at the Government and party levels. "We have constituted coordination committees in the 14 States ruled by the Congress, including Karnataka and Maharashtra where there are coalition governments. The aim is to ensure that the Government puts in a good performance and works to fulfil the aspirations of the people," he said.

He said the Congress High Command is keen that the coalition Government in the State derives the maximum benefit from the United Progressive Alliance Government. It is relatively easy to get things done when the same party is in power in the State and at the Centre. "I will be in Bangalore again next month to review the performance of the Congress Ministers department-wise and ensure that the Chief Minister and Ministers are accountable. The coalition Government completes 18 months in office in October," he said.

The Congress General Secretary said the High Command would like to make it clear that there is no question of midterm elections in the State. The focus now will be on making the Government work and ensure that the Congress manifesto and the common minimum programme chalked out by the two coalition partners are implemented.

He said there are rumours about midterm elections, change in party leadership and so on. "I am here to spike these rumours. Never has the High Command stated that the party is contemplating elections in the State. That the party has to be ready for elections at any time is another matter," he added.

With a section of Congress leaders pressuring him to permit them to attend the AHIND convention in Tumkur on Saturday and a rival group seeking a direction to all to refrain from attending it, Mr. Antony said divergent views are bound to be there in a mass-based party such as the Congress. But all Congress leaders should bear in mind that any direction of the High Command should be strictly adhered to. Rather than invite disciplinary action, party leaders should adhere to a certain degree of discipline, he added.

See online : The Hindu

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