There need be no apprehensions over the impact of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Kerala as ministers from the state at the Centre would unitedly fight to ensure its interests are not affected, Defence Minister A K Antony said in Kochi on Monday.
"Kerala will only benefit from the pact. Ministers from Kerala at the Centre will unitedly fight to see that Kerala does not lose. But the state government should stand behind us," he said, speaking at an election meeting in Kochi in support of UDF candidate Dominic Presentation for the Nov 7 bypoll.
He pointed out that 489 items figured in the negative list, which would come into effect once the agreement came into force in January 2010. The Cabinet sub-committee, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Overseas Indian Affairs minister Vayalar Ravi and himself would look into the state's grieveances, he said.
On Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan's reported remark that central forces would remain in "barracks" so long as the State felt there was no need to deploy them to monitor law and order on November 7, he said once the election was declared, government officials and police in the constituencies were under the Election Commisson's control. "Even the Prime Minister has no control over the EC", he said.
He alleged that the state government had not taken steps to implement many projects sanctioned by the UPA government.
Antony also charged the state government with committing serious lapses in utilising tsunami funds sanctioned by the Centre and asked the people to give a 'fitting reply' to the LDF candidate in the bypoll.