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Karunakaran moves to topple Antony
George Iype in Kochi | November 12, 2003 15:20 IST
Last Updated: November 12, 2003 15:23 IST
Congress leader K Karunakaran, who has raised the banner of revolt in Kerala, says he can defeat Chief Minister A K Antony in the assembly.
Karunakaran, who claims support of 71 legislators -- 23 from the Congress, 40 from the opposition and some Antony supporters -- in the 140-member assembly, met Governor Sikander Bakht on Wednesday. The Congress leader is said to have urged him to convene the assembly, saying Antony has lost majority.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is yet to take action against Karunakaran.
Officials at the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram say it is unlikely that the governor will immediately convene the assembly. "The governor is duty-bound to convene the assembly only if Karunakaran comes with a written list of his 71 supporters," an official in the governor's office told rediff.com
Many expect Karunakaran to go with such a list in the next few days. The Karunakaran faction, which has the support of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K Muraleedharan (who happens to be the senior leader's son), is preparing for a rally in Kochi on November 19.
The high command has asked Karunakaran to resist from holding the rally. But Karunakaran's supporters say the veteran leader will even announce a separate party on the rally day.
Political observers say even if Karunakaran creates a party, he will most probably align with the Nationalist Congress Party, headed by Sharad Pawar. Pawar and Karunakaran are said to be have held a couple of meetings recently.
"We have various options even if are forced to go out of the party. But I tell you the Congress in Kerala cannot remain together if Antony continues to be the chief minister," Rajmohan Unnithan, a prominent Karunakaran supporter, told rediff.com on Wednesday.
But despite the increasing threat to his government, Antony is unperturbed. On Wednesday, he said he would not ask the governor to convene the assembly. "Why should I ask for the assembly session when I have the majority numbers with me. Those who have the majority numbers should meet the governor and ask for the assembly session," he told reporters.
He said the Marxists, who want to split the Congress, were behind the plot against him. "I will ensure that the Congress in Kerala does not split because of the Marxists' evil designs," Antony added.
More reports from Kerala