Kerala's new Chief Minister Oommen Chandy promises "not to resort to any confrontation", whether in the government or within the ruling Congress that is driven by internal dissent.
Chandy, 61, took over as the state's 19th chief minister earlier this week after AK Antony resigned on Sunday taking responsibility for the Congress' rout in the Lok Sabha elections.
In an exclusive interview with IANS, the first since he became Chief Minister, Chandy said there was no reason for Antony alone to have taken the responsibility for the election debacle. "But that is Antony," he said of his close friend and long-time party colleague.
Full of praise for his predecessor, Chandy said he was certain it would be difficult to find a politician with the integrity of Antony, who was sincere and had "great expectations" for the state.
"His intentions were all good but a wrong message went to the people and party men," he remarked. Referring to veteran leader K Karunakaran's bitter animosity with Antony that had threatened to split the party, Chandy said he would cooperate with him on all issues "to the best possible extent".
Chandy asserted he would also cooperate with the Opposition in all aspects, but would not brook any disruption of law and order.
"All forms of democratic protests will be accepted but under no circumstances will anyone be allowed to disturb law and order. It will be severely dealt with irrespective of where it comes from," he warned.