Antony Sticks To Consensus

Kochi, January 20: | Updated: Jan 21 2003, 05:30am hrs
Unperturbed by the sharp criticism that he received at the valedictory session of the Global Investor Meet (GIM), Kerala chief minister AK Antony stood firm.

After the initial words of praise for his honesty and simplicity, Mr Antony became a punching bag with AICC economic cell chief Jairam Ramesh kicking off the volleying. In what could be seen as a Central leadership view of the Kerala chief minister, Mr Ramesh asked Mr Antony to end his fear of criticism and not go by the idea of consensus when it came to giving his stamp for the investment proposals in the state.

The consensus path can be taken only to a point and beyond that a lot depended on leadership, was his view. A political leader need not touch his back every morning to see whether his backbone is intact, was another sharp one at Mr Antony. The others on the dais too did not lag behind. Industry minister Kunhalikutty, the captain of GIM, went a step further and said the views of Mr Ramesh were shared by him too and requested Mr Antony to take a strong and stern stand.

Speaker Vakkom Purushottaman did not mince words either and said that the chief minister cared only for labour interests and though there was a perceptible change in Mr Antonys ways, he prayed the CM will not go back to his old ideas.

The whole valedictory function appeared to be an Antony bashing and disinvestment minister Arun Shourie who too showered praises on Mr Antony for his simplicity and honesty, gave the final advice: Buy a pair of ear plugs after GIM and ignore criticism of the intelligentsia.

But all this criticism even from his colleagues left Mr Antony unnerved only to reiterate: The government will soon convene a meeting with all opposition parties to discuss the MoUs signed at GIM. My government will not give the path of consensus, come what may. The governments would come and go, but there had to be an assurance for the investor that the basic policies would not change, he said.