Discussions over what is being widely seen as moves for a Cabinet reshuffle gathered momentum with the arrival of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Defence Minister A.K. Antony here on Saturday.
Mr. Gandhi, who spent very little time with State party leaders on his arrival here to address a rally to mark the conclusion of the ‘Kerala Yathra’ by KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, had very little time for interaction with the leaders. However, Mr. Antony used the occasion to interact with leaders belonging to different groups in the Congress. Although he later told reporters that he did not wish to be dragged into the discussions about a possible Cabinet reshuffle, sources in the party said he had given definite indications of his preferences during his meetings with senior party leaders, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the KPCC president, besides Ministers and MLAs.
The main proposals that are on every lip these days are the following: to induct Mr. Chennithala into the Cabinet, possibly as Home Minister; make Speaker G. Karthikeyan the KPCC president; and go in for a broader reshuffle of the Cabinet involving various departments. However, all this is easier said than done. For one, it is unlikely that Mr. Chandy and his supporters would agree to the Home portfolio, currently being held by Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, going out of their control. If indeed that happens, the Congress leadership would have to do some explaining for its action. Trouble could also erupt elsewhere in the party when the other changes are attempted, like, say if Adoor Prakash is asked to give up the Revenue portfolio.
Mr. Antony is understood to have favoured Mr. Chennithala’s entry into the Cabinet, but, if party sources are to be believed, he also wanted K. Muraleedharan to be given a look in to fill the vacancy created by Kerala Congress(B) nominee K.B. Ganesh Kumar’s resignation.
Interestingly, among the visitors to Indira Bhavan to meet Mr. Antony was former Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who is seeking re-entry into the Cabinet, but cannot do so because his father and Kerala Congress(B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai has taken the stand that his party does not want a Cabinet berth for now.