Learn from past mistakes, Antony tells UDF

Learn from past mistakes, Antony tells UDF

Defence Minister A.K. Antony Sunday made it amply clear that if the Congress-led United Democratic Front learnt from previous experience, it stood to benefit.

"It's quite natural to have issues when the government is a coalition, but then all should learn from past experience," Antony said, while talking to reporters here.

Antony is familiar with the compulsions of coalition politics. He was chief minister of the state three times - during his 2001-04 tenure at the helm, his own party saw serious differences after K. Karunakaran fielded a rebel candidate when Rajya Sabha polls were held.

At the height of the internal strife in the Congress party and during the manoeuvrings of Karunakaran among UDF allies, it was Oommen Chandy, current chief minister, who was doing the fire-fighting and working behind the curtains to see the two official Congress candidates win the Rajya Sabha elections.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, with the UDF house in disarray, for the first time the Congress failed to win a single seat in the polls. The Left opposition won 18 of the 20 seats, with the Indian Union Muslim League and the National Democratic Alliance winning a seat each.

With this crushing defeat, Antony quit as chief minister and was replaced by Chandy in 2004. A year later, he became defence minister, and has since kept away from the state politics.

Antony's statement comes at a time when there are issues within the state unit of the Congress party and amongst the constituent members of the UDF. Many issues surfaced over the last month as UDF leaders took each other on, and washed dirty linen in public.
"Many of the controversies could have been avoided, and if that happens, it would be good for all," Antony said.

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