Pro-people programmes to tackle Oppn: Chandy
Kerala's chief minister-in-waiting Oommen Chandy admits the Left will be a formidable opposition.
Thiruvananthapuram: With the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) barely making it to power, Kerala's chief minister-in-waiting Oommen Chandy admits the Left will be a formidable opposition but says he is confident of countering them through "pro-people programmes" like the Right to Education act. "It is easy to tackle the strong opposition because we will be coming out with very pro-people programmes and also with specific projects that will take Kerala on the track of development," Chandy, who will be sworn in as Kerala's 21st chief minister on Wednesday, told IANS in his first interview after coming to power.
Chandy, who led the UDF to victory by edging out the Left combine by a narrow margin of just four votes, said he would handle the challenge with ease. While the UDF finished with 72 seats, just one more than needed to take power in the 140-member Kerala assembly, the Left was close behind with 68 seats. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) is the largest party in the state with 45 seats.
According to Chandy, the opposition leader in the outgoing assembly, a favourable and positive government in New Delhi that had always been considerate to Kerala was the biggest advantage for its progress. "Three of the central government's pet projects, the rural employment guarantee scheme, the Food Security Act and the Right to Education would be fully taken advantage of and would be firmly put in place here. We will also demand a right to health product for the poor," Chandy said.
He said his government would lose no time in implementing long delayed projects. These included the Rs.1,500 crore Smart City IT project in Kochi and the Vizhinjam port, which would be one of the deepest in the world and would handle 4.1 million containers annually.
"They (Left) made cosmetic changes to our Smart City proposal and sat on it for more than four years. We will have one final look into their proposal. Our only aim is that we will see the project start at the earliest and will not make changes for the sake of it, as they did. Likewise, no more delays for the Vizhinjam project," said the 67-year-old who will be chief minister for the second time.
Chandy became chief minister for the first time in August 2004 when he replaced A.K. Antony, who quit the post after the party was routed in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
Chandy said his government would not indulge in any vengeance, unlike his predecessor V.S. Achuthanandan's regime.
"We will certainly look into all the allegations that have surfaced in the recent past against the outgoing government with regards to backdoor appointments and others. We will not be vengeful. Strict action would be taken if anyone is found guilty. The law will take its course. A priority would be to honour the scheme of Re.1 per kg rice for all the card holders in the below poverty category and rice at Rs.2 for all in the above poverty category," he said.
Analysing his past performance, Chandy admitted that in his first tenure he could not give the required impetus to agriculture and allied sectors. "In Kerala, only rubber is lucrative because of the handsome price it gets these days. But my priority would be to increase income in the pure agriculture sector," Chandy said.
Declining to reveal further, he added with a smile: "Please, if I give out all my trump cards, then I will have nothing to offer after I officially take over as the chief minister."
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