Ramesh Chennithala, president, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, will make his entry into the Oommen Chandy Cabinet on New Year’s Day, raising hopes that the party and the coalition will regroup ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The swearing-in ceremony will be held between 11 a.m. and 11.30 am. Mr. Chennithala is likely to get the coveted Home and Vigilance portfolio. Party sources said he might also get the Scheduled Caste Welfare portfolio.
The decision on Mr. Chennithala’s induction, just two days before the start of the Assembly session, was taken by the party high command a couple of days ago and was conveyed to the State leadership.
Mr. Chennithala, who had earlier refused to join the Cabinet without the Home and Vigilance portfolio, was called to Delhi the other day and directed to take up the job. The decision is being viewed as an attempt of the high command to sort out factional problems and address the issues related to retaining the communal balance of the Ministry.
Mr. Chennithala’s induction has been a heated topic since May. But it did not materialise because of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s refusal to give him the Home portfolio. Mr. Chennithala refused to join the team with any other portfolio, stating that Mr. Chandy’s stand could be seen only as an expression of lack of confidence in him especially after working in unison for over eight years. The aborted attempt only served to widen the factional divide, with the KPCC president and the Chief Minister going their respective ways.
It is obvious that there is haste in Mr. Chennithala’s induction since this would be the only opportunity for the high command to achieve its objectives before the onset of the Assembly session, reckoned to be the last before the Lok Sabha elections.KPCC post
There are indications that Mr. Chennithala will continue as KPCC president for the time being. The party leadership is yet to decide on a replacement for him in that post. There is the likelihood of a minor reshuffle of portfolios if only to maintain the factional balance in the distribution of portfolios. Incumbent Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan is reportedly not keen on becoming the Speaker and is pushing for the Revenue Portfolio, which he held prior to the shift to the Home Department. Speaker G. Karthikeyan is a prospective nominee for KPCC president. The modalities of the reshuffle are currently being discussed by the party leaders and a clear picture will emerge later on.
Governor Nikhil Kumar, who was scheduled to return only on January 2, has changed his plans to be in the State capital in time for the swearing-in ceremony.