Both stick to their stance on Home; leaders seek high command intervention

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala’s discussions on the proposed Cabinet reshuffle ended in a fiasco late on Wednesday night with the leaders failing to thrash out a formula that would facilitate the latter’s smooth entry as Minister with the top-notch Home portfolio.

They had met twice earlier on the same issue but could not make much headway.

Wednesday’s meeting was quite different because of the tone of finality during its course of 20 minutes. Party sources, cutting across factional affiliations, are of the view that the high command should step in to settle the issue before it gets out of hand. The sources hoped that would take place as soon as Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony returned from his foreign trip. He had already proceeded abroad when Mr. Chandy landed in Delhi on Monday.

Mr. Chandy, who had a hectic schedule during the day, including two Cabinet meetings and a horde of conferences, arrived at the KPCC office late in the evening to officially inform Mr. Chennithala about the outcome of his dialogues with the party high command on the Cabinet reshuffle.

He made a terse statement soon after the meeting, stating that he had updated the KPCC president about his Delhi visit. He also indicated that the talks would have to continue and he would inform the high command of his talks with Mr. Chennithala.

The sources said Mr. Chandy made it clear that he could not agree to give up the Home portfolio, while Mr. Chennithala stuck to his stand that he would join the Cabinet only if he got Home, which would visibly designate the pecking order in the Congress, if not the UDF.

Earlier in the day, UDF convener P.P. Thankachan donned the mediator’s hat in an attempt to keep the dialogues on by calling on Mr. Chennithala at his residence first and then topping it up with a meeting with Mr. Chandy.