Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The three MLAs -- P. P. George, E.M. Augusthy and Adoor Prakash-- are learnt to have discussed a wide range of issues with her; both pertaining to the organisation and the administration. Though the Chief Minister's remarks were discussed, it is not clear whether the trio communicated to the high command the senior Congress leader and MP, K. Karunakaran's view that Mr. Antony should have stepped down if he felt pressured by the minorities.
Prior to their meeting with Ms. Gandhi, the three MLAs met the AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala, Ahmed Patel, along with a couple of `I' group MPs. Later, Mr. Patel accompanied them to 10 Janpath for their meeting with Ms. Gandhi.
Meanwhile, even as the Congress is open to discussing with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) the political stalemate following Mr. Antony's remarks, the central leadership maintained that there was no threat to his position and appeared inclined to let him iron out the rough spots himself. Talking to reporters here earlier in the evening, Mr. Patel expressed confidence in Mr. Antony's ability to deal with the situation. He added that Mr. Antony's commitment to secularism "cannot and should not be doubted''.
Mr. Patel, who has spoken to Mr. Antony thrice after this controversy erupted, refused to divulge details or go into why the Chief Minister had reiterated what the party leadership prefers to call `off-the-cuff remarks'. Refusing to speculate on what had prompted the Chief Minister to make such a statement and then stand by it despite the controversy, all Mr. Patel said was that Mr. Antony was best seized of the local situation and "is capable of dealing with it''.
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