Wednesday, Apr 23, 2003
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By Anita Joshua
In turn, Ms. Gandhi is said to have evinced the hope that all members of the party in the State would work unitedly, and assured Mr. Karunakaran that she would keep his views in mind. As to whether the expulsion of the rebel candidate, Kodoth Govindan Nair, would be revoked or disciplinary action taken against the MLAs who defied the high command's directive, no indication was forthcoming from either Mr. Karunakaran or the AICC general-ecretary in charge of the State, Ambika Soni.
Though this was the first meeting between Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Karunakaran after the latter decided to field his own candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections, it could well be a while before the rough spots are ironed out. While Ms. Soni refused to set a time-frame for resolving this crisis, Mr. Karunakaran's counter to questions on whether this meeting would break the deadlock was: "Has any situation been settled with one meeting?''
Talking to reporters after the hour-long meeting with Ms. Gandhi at 10 Janpath, the strongman of Kerala politics said he was "by and large happy'' with the discussion. As for action against his group MLAs and review of Mr. Nair's expulsion, he said it was for the Congress president to decide. And whether the decision whatever it be would be acceptable, he shot back: "Can any decision be accepted?''
About his discussion, all that Mr. Karunakaran said was, "I told her whatever I had to.'' Though he indicated that he discussed the expulsion of Mr. Nair, he did not elaborate. Pressed for more details, Mr. Karunakaran said several pending issues pertaining to the State, including the Antony-led UDF Government, were discussed.
On whether he intended meeting Ms. Gandhi again on this issue, Mr. Karunakaran's answer was that he had no plans `as of now'. "However, I cannot say what may happen tomorrow.'' Treading cautiously, he refused to be drawn into discussing his primary grouse of being slighted by the AICC leadership. "That is all in the past, why rake it up now.''
And, to a supplementary on whether the high command's attitude was proper, he shot back: "I am not here to give a certificate to anyone.''
Of the view that Ms. Gandhi's call for unity in the party was `pious wish', Mr. Karunakaran pointed out that such differences had been part of the Congress tradition in Kerala. He, however, clarified that workers always buried their differences and worked as one to fight a common enemy in the face of a crisis.
With the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, expected to reach the capital on Wednesday, and the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, K. Muraleedharan, already here, further parleys are expected. About Mr. Antony's visit, Ms. Soni said she had no information and denied that the high command had asked him to come to Delhi.
Meanwhile, the newly-elected Rajya Sabha member, Thennala Balakrishna Pillai, called on Ms. Gandhi this evening soon after Mr. Karunakaran left 10 Janpath. Earlier, just before leaving for his meeting with Ms. Gandhi, Mr. Karunakaran had a visitor at home in the CPI (M) leader and former Rajya Sabha MP, S. Ramachandran Pillai. Both these meetings were described as `courtesy calls'.
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