By Ashraf Padanna/Gulf Times Correspondent/Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala’s chief minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday called on outgoing chief minister Oommen Chandy and Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan ahead of assuming office next week.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader also visited the headquarters of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the second largest coalition partner, and held discussions with its top leaders.
Vijayan, accompanied by his party’s state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, invited all of them to the swearing-in ceremony to be held at the Central Stadium here on May 25.
While Chandy offered Vijayan support for continuing the outgoing government’s development initiatives, Achuthanandan vowed to remain “on the people’s side” and ensure that the guilty in corruption cases are punished.
The nonagenarian former chief minister, who is upset that he was denied a second chance to become the chief minister after leading the party to victory, also wanted immediate steps to rein in inflation and ensure the safety of women.
“It’s not a question of the position (of power),” Achuthanandan told reporters later, unleashing a fierce attack on Chandy holding him responsible for “widespread corruption” and “development paralysis.”
“I’ll uphold the leftist line and defend the interests of the people.”
Vijayan, however, restrained himself from attacking his political rivals and instead appeared trying to build a consensus on matters of development, an area in which Chandy excelled.
“I met him because he is the last party leader among us who held the post of the chief minister and had practical knowledge. It can be said that I am a novice in administrative affairs of the government,” the 72-year-old Vijayan, who would be the 12th leader to occupy the chair, told reporters after the meeting.
Vijayan, who received a warm welcome from Chandy and his family, said his invitation list did not exclude anyone and that was why he planned the ceremony in a stadium. “I’m ready to seek advice from all,” Vijayan told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Chandy.
“I’ll discharge duties of the office bestowed on me with all its seriousness,” he wrote on Facebook earlier. “I expect the co-operation of all Keralites on this.”
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader O Rajagopal, who opened the account for the party in the assembly, also called on Vijayan at AKG Centre, the CPM headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram.
The day also saw the first policy statement from CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran, who said the new government would dump the policy of phased prohibition, which the voters had rejected, and concentrate on promoting abstention. Vijayan, however, refused to respond saying the Left Democratic Front (LDF) would take a decision soon.
Meanwhile, the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) said it expected the new government to fulfil the developmental needs of the state, including the timely commissioning of the Kochi Metro.
“The Chamber hopes that the government will do everything possible to ensure that the Metro project is commissioned on time,” it said in a statement.
“We hope that the new cabinet will seriously consider the fund requirements for KMRL so that it will accelerate the overall progress of unfinished works, including land acquisition.”
The development of the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) operated by Dubai Ports World was a top priority for the outgoing government, it said, hoping the new administration too would continue support.
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