Chandy completes an year, feels thin margin no handicap

A year after he led the Congress-led UDF to power with a thin majority, Chandy asserted that he has been able to prove that performance.

Thiruvananthapuram: A year after he led the Congress-led UDF to power with a thin majority, an upbeat Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asserted that he has been able to prove that performance, not mere numbers, is what determines a ministry`s stability.

It has not always been a smooth ride for him in highly politically polarised Kerala but when he looks back Chandy feels he has been able to create an ideal investment climate without compromising on the welfare of the less privileged.

When UDF assumed office after ousting CPI(M)-led LDF in May last year, scepticism was rife about government`s survival as it could muster just 72 seats in the 140-member assembly.

But over the year, the UDF has passed grim political trials like the keenly-fought assembly bypoll from Piravom and appears to enjoy greater acceptability with its arch rival CPI(M) coming under a cloud in the wake of the recent murder of Marxist rebel and RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan.

"I am not saying that numbers do not matter in democracy. But number alone is not enough. What matters is performance, sense of purpose and political will. Any unbiased observer would agree that we have been able to pass the test when these determinants are taken into account", Chandy told a news agency.

A realist in politics, 68-year-old Chandy said there have been political controversies, some having direct bearing on the UDF but they were not allowed to come in the way of governance or pursuing the policies and programmes vigorously.

"Can anyone cite a single instance of the cabinet meeting being deferred or discussions scheduled on important projects called off on account of political rows.We have never allowed controversies to come in the way of governance", he said.
Chandy said he had received total co-operation and support from the Congress and the UDF as a whole.
"The UDF`s unity has been the strength of the government. We proved it in the Piravom assembly bypoll three months back and will prove it again at Neyyattinkara, where the bye-election is due on June 2", Chandy said.

Asked whether the troubles in the CPI-M made the UDF`s position stronger, Chandy said he never believed in exploiting the weakness of the rival for his survival.

"We solely depend upon our performance. I never believe in the theory that your success depends on the weakness of your rival. If you think so, you will become weak yourself," said Chandy, who completed one year in office on Friday.

Chandy admitted that the demand of Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest partner in UDF, for additional ministerial berth created some controversy. However, he said there was nothing unnatural in giving one more cabinet berth to IUML as it was entitled to it.

"Under the earlier UDF rule, IUML had five positions--four cabinet berths and that of the government Chief Whip, with cabinet rank," he said.

He dismissed the criticism that he was forced to effect portfolio changes among Congress ministers to appease the majority community for accommodating IUML`s demand.

"I gave up Home portfolio to lessen my workload. That also made me to effect changes in portfolios of some other Congress colleagues. This was not done under pressure from any quarter."

As a CM who has a "24X7 work schedule," he said the only pressure on him was that of time.

"My way of saving time is to drastically reduce the time spent for personal needs like eating and sleeping. I can eat when travelling by road, rail or air. I am also lucky that I get sleep the moment I stretch my body, wherever I am. I also save some time by reducing the family hours", he added.


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