Monday, April 6, 2009

Name Third Front PM candidate: Antony to Left

Kottayam: Ridiculing the Left's claim that the Third Front would form government after the Lok Sabha polls, Defence Minister A K Antony Saturday said a vote to LDF nominees would be a "waste" as it had neither spelt out the contours of such an alternative nor its prime ministerial candidate.

Antony said the Congress and the BJP have declared their prime ministerial candidates, but the Left had not announced its leader so far.

"The Left should clarify as to whom it supports at the Centre and where it will go for setting up the Third Front," he told a meet-the-press programme here.

The former Kerala chief minister, who is campaigning for the Congress-led UDF in the state, asserted the UPA would retain power under the prime ministership of Manmohan Singh.

He also said the Congress would accept the support of all parties to form the government, but there was no question of propping up any other government.

Slamming the Left for joining hands with BJD in Orissa for the "sake of a few Assembly and Lok Sabha seats", Antony asked the CPI-M to end the friendship with it.

He said the country cannot forget the Kandhamal communal strife. Attacking BJP, he claimed the country would disintegrate if it came to power.

"People have lost faith in the BJP." On the arms deal with Israel, he reiterated that India had defence cooperation with about 45 countries and the ties with Tel Aviv started from 1992.

"If there is any evidence of irregularity in the deal, it will be cancelled and a detailed inquiry conducted," Antony said.

Abdul Nasser Madani-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kerala, Antony said it was not something new.

"CPI-M has been having tacit understanding with PDP since the Ottappalam by-election in 1993," he added.

In an apparent counter to LDF's charge that Kerala had been neglected by the Centre, he claimed the UPA Government had been "liberal" towards the state in sanctioning developmental projects.

In the last five years, Rs 40,000 crore worth development projects, including the Kuttanad scheme and Idduki package, had been sanctioned by the Centre to the state.

The LDF Government in the state had not sanctioned any new project except those allotted by the Centre, he claimed.

He said the projects already started would be completed if the Congress came back to power. Youth would be given more opportunities, he said in reply to a question.

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