Parties with 'secular outlook' should come together: NCP

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Kochi, Jan 4 (UNI) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said all the progressive political parties with a 'secular outlook' should come together to keep at bay the communal forces from power.

Addressing a gathering, after inaugurating the 'Representative Conference' of the party here, Mr Pawar said ''the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, where BJP won majority, shows that the Congress party was working without knowing the ground reality.'' ''In order to keep away the BJP and other communal forces from power, all secular parties, including the Left, if they are honest with their outlook, should come together,'' he added.

He said NCP was a potent party and no one could bypass the party in national politics.

''NCP has representatives in 11 Assemblies in various States in India and this would show the party's national strength,'' Mr Pawar noted.

On the agriculture front in Kerala, Mr Pawar said Dr Swaminathnan had given reports on agriculture reforms in two districts in the State and the report was being considered by the Centre.

''If the report is approved by the Centre, the two districts will get Rs 1,800 crore, which would be a great relief for the farmers,'' Mr Pawar added.

Speaking on the occasion, NCP State leader K Muraleedharan today reiterated that he would not follow the footsteps of his father K Karunakaran and return to the Congress party.

''My father was telling media that I will go back to the Congress party but I like to stress that I will not return,'' Mr Muraleedharan confirmed.

After Mr Karunakaran's return to Congress, it was evident from the conduct of the party leaders that he had been continuously insulted.

''Even to organise a rally, Mr Karunakaran has to get the apporval of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Ramesh Chennithala and Mr Oomen Chandy,'' he noted.

Mr Muraleedharan said his party would take a decision on joining a front in the State after the party's State conference in Thrissur in April.

UNI MA GKT SP RN2155

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