Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is likely to be in New Delhi for a one-day visit on June 3, is expected to hold discussions with the Congress high command on his proposal for a Cabinet reshuffle with the objective of inducting Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala into his Cabinet.
Mr. Chandy will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other leaders, including Union Defence Minister A K Antony, and apprise them of the current political situation in Kerala. Mr. Chandy’s main objective will be to get the approval of the high command for the creation of the Deputy Chief Minister’s post, with the hope that he could convince the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leadership to give up its opposition to the move in view of the difficult situation that the Congress and the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) are facing in the State. It is also possible that he would convince the high command to intervene in the matter by holding dialogues with the IUML leadership and get it to agree to a formula.
One of the main issues that is going to figure before the Congress high command is the question of giving an honourable position for Mr. Chennithala if he is to be inducted into the Cabinet. In political terms, this would mean the number two position in the Cabinet or in the Congress pecking order. If the Congress leadership fails to bring around the IUML leadership to its proposal, Mr. Chandy will have to seek other options to achieve his objective.
The allocation of the Home portfolio may become a stumbling block if Mr. Chandy is forced to look at other alternatives. By now, Mr. Chandy has clearly indicated his firm resolve not to give up the Home portfolio. Mr. Chennithala too has dropped broad hints of what would constitute an ‘honourable accommodation’ – nothing short of Home and Vigilance if the party is unable to get the IUML agree to the creation of the Deputy Chief Minister’s post.
In the meantime, IUML leader P.K. Kunhalikutty held discussions with Mr. Chandy on Friday morning. The discussion was focussed on getting the IUML change its stance. The party had strongly opposed the idea of opening the question of creating such a post when its leaders met the Chief Minister on Thursday.