Shibu Baby John is likely to get Sports in view of coming National Games

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy seems to be in no hurry to fill the vacancy in his Cabinet consequent on the resignation of K.B. Ganesh Kumar and is likely to either temporarily retain the Forest portfolio or hand it over to a trusted colleague.

Mr. Chandy has not opened his mind on the issue as yet, neither has the Congress party discussed the fallout of the resignation. But it is becoming clear that Mr. Chandy has few options before him if he does not want to open a Pandora’s box of new inductions.

According to Congress sources, Mr. Chandy would prefer to wait for the completion of the current Crime Branch investigation into the complaints filed by Mr. Ganesh Kumar and Yamini Thankachi before deciding on filling the vacancy, depending on their outcome. In this context, the current thinking in the Chief Minister’s camp is that Mr. Chandy should retain the Forest portfolio at least till the Assembly session is over in a few days’ time and then hand over it to one of his trusted colleagues if he is reluctant to handle the subject.

Cinema portfolio

It is also possible that he may hand over the other two subjects, Sports and Cinema, that were handled by Mr. Ganesh Kumar to a Congress Minister or to one of the coalition partners. Sources said Labour Minister Shibu Baby John is likely to get Sports in view of the coming National Games, for which preparatory work is on. Mr. John had handled Food and Civil Supplies till Anoop Jacob’s induction as Minister after winning the Piravom by-election.

Additional charge

When K.P. Viswanathan resigned as Forest Minister during Mr. Chandy’s first term as Chief Minister, he had handed over the portfolio as additional charge to Mr. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who was Water Resources Minister then. This time too, Mr. Radhakrishnan has every chance of being given additional charge of Forest, keeping in mind the imperatives of maintaining communal equations.

With Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s resignation, the Kerala Congress(B)’s letter (withdrawing its nominee from the Cabinet) has become irrelevant, but its chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai would most probably want to retain the lien on his party’s slot. This is an issue his representatives are likely to bring up at the April 9 meeting of the ruling United Democratic Front.

It would not be easy for the Chief Minister to consider induction of a new Minister from the Congress, mainly because it would throw open another set of problems for the party which is getting caught in factional politics. The induction of Congress Ministers had been done as part of the party’s customary factional allocation and the party leadership would have to handle the claims and counter-claims that may arise, sources said.

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