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Karunakaran now wants Antony out

George Iype in Kochi | January 29, 2004 09:28 IST

Having split the Congress in Kerala and decided to form a party in the name of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, rebel leader K Karunakaran now wants to topple the A K Antony government with the support of Left parties.

Karunakaran claims the support of 19 Congress legislators in the 140-member assembly.

According to his aides, some partners in the ruling United Democratic Front have hinted at supporting the Indira National Congress, as the new outfit is likely to be called.

The Left Democratic Front led by the Communist Party of India- Marxist has 40 legislators.

But many believe Karunakaran will not be able to oust Antony because the newly amended anti-defection law.

The amendment, which came into force early this month, allows assembly speakers to debar defectors from holding any "remunerative political post" for the remaining tenure of the legislature unless re-elected.

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The aides say if Karunakaran is not able to topple the government, he will ask his supporters to resign and approach the Election Commission seeking assembly by-elections in the state along with the Lok Sabha polls.

"We could contest 19 seats in Kerala and win with the support of Left parties," one of the aides told on Wednesday evening.

Karunakaran's son K Muraleedharan, who is also the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president, has repeatedly accused Antony of being a Bharatiya Janata Party sympathiser and an "anti-minority" leader.

On Wednesday, however, he was noncommittal about joining his father's party.

Both father and son had held a number of meetings with the Congress high command for a solution to the crisis. But Congress president Sonia Gandhi refused to listen to their main demand: Antony's removal.

The duo also pressed for a Cabinet reshuffle; Karunakaran wanted Antony to give finance or home ministry to his son.

The veteran leader decided to split following the rejection of this demand.

Karunakaran supporter P C Chacko claimed on Wednesday that "the nitty-gritty of the formation of the new party would be worked out in the coming days".

"The problems in the Congress have reached a point of no return. There will be more political changes in the Kerala landscape soon," he told

Karunakaran's supporters were huddled in meetings throughout Wednesday.

According to them, Karunakaran wants his party to contest the Lok Sabha polls independently.

They said their party's flag would carry Indira Gandhi's picture.

But some are still hopeful that Gandhi, who has so far kept quite, will now take some urgent measures to restore unity in the Congress.

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