Two rounds of discussion among Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and United Democratic Front (UDF) convener P.P. Thankachan on Friday turned out to be an exercise to arrest the falling level of trust among Ministers following the leak of a list of telephone calls linking Ministers and UDF leaders to solar scam accused Saritha S. Nair.
It also appeared to be a move by the Congress leaders to put their house in order to face the Assembly when it resumes its session on Monday. Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan attended the second round of talks held in the evening, since the Congress leadership felt that it should take him into confidence in the given context.
The leak of the call list had led to allegations and counter-allegations about its source, straining the relations between the Chief Minister and the Home Minister. A majority of the Congress men felt that the leak could be traced to the Home Minister, but during the one-hour parley in the evening, Mr. Radhakrishnan maintained that he was not responsible for it. He reportedly pointed an accusing finger at the Chief Minister’s Office. The Home Minister went on record that certain sections in the party were trying to target and isolate him. He reportedly said he was open to the idea of conducting an inquiry into the source of the leak. The leak has had a disrupting influence on the Congress party as well, creating suspicion among leaders about the motives of such disclosures even as the names kept tumbling out one by one.
Mr. Chennithala, who took the initiative to launch the damage-control exercise, later said the party would conduct an internal inquiry into the leak of the list. He maintained that the Home Minister was not responsible for the leak, which should have been prevented. At the government level, the Additional Director General of Police T.P. Senkumar had been entrusted with the probe into the leak. The UDF will tackle attempts to weaken the coalition in the name of the solar scam, he said.
He said no one could be prevented from making telephone calls and making such calls was not an offence. The UDF would confront all attempts to tarnish the image of popular leaders by exaggerating contents of the list.
The Home Minister’s discomfiture over the solar scam investigation has also led to the revival of the prospects of a Cabinet reshuffle, which has now been put on hold. However, the Chief Minister Chandy emphatically rebutted media speculation about such a move. “The meeting attended by the KPCC president, UDF convener, and myself in the morning had discussed only contemporary political issues. And speculative stories about the Home Minister’s removal were baseless. It was unfortunate that channels were propagating such stories which had not been discussed,” Mr. Chandy said.