Opposition to dropping a Congress nominee

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s move for a Cabinet reshuffle has wittingly or unwittingly triggered off a new round of factionalism in the Congress at a time when its national leaders are yet to recover from the setback the party received in the Lok Sabha polls.

Mr. Chandy launched his Cabinet reshuffle efforts in the name of accommodating the Kerala Congress (B), a minor constituent of the United Democratic Front (UDF), in his team, besides giving him an opportunity to redo the portfolios of certain Congress Ministers. The move would have also involved dropping a Congress nominee. His recent visit to the New Delhi was purportedly to get the High Command’s sanction for the reshuffle. This was followed by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala’s visit recently. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V.M. Sudheeran left for New Delhi on Sunday.

Mr. Chandy, according to sources close to him, wants to keep his commitment made to R. Balakrishna Pillai in the presence of other UDF leaders that his party would be given a slot by re-inducting Ganesh Kumar who had to quit as Minister in the Chandy Cabinet.

The re-induction of Mr. Ganesh Kumar is generally opposed by all Congress leaders. There is also lack of clarity on the Chief Minister’s move for a reshuffle at this juncture when the UDF had done fairly well in the Lok Sabha elections.

Besides, after the induction of Mr. Chennithala as Home Minister and Mr. Sudheeran as KPCC president, the party had put behind its problems of maintaining social balance in what was considered a Cabinet dominated by leaders belonging to the minority communities. If it were for refurbishing his image, Congress leaders had expressed doubts whether it would help the Congress and the Chief Minister achieve the aim. They are also opposed to giving up a slot in the Cabinet that is currently with the Congress.

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