Hectic parleys are on to work out a compromise formula to settle the rift between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala, who continues to sulk at the short shrift he was allegedly given by the Chief Minister’s camp over the issue of his induction in the Cabinet.
AICC general secretary Madhusoodan Mistry had a round of telephone conversation with Mr. Chennithala on Saturday in order to prevent the rift from widening.
Congress Working Committee member A.K. Antony also had several rounds of discussions with Mr. Chandy during the course of the day as part of an attempt to bring about a settlement.
While there is a general consensus on the induction of Mr. Chennithala as a minister, the dispute is over allocation of the Home portfolio.
Mr. Chennithala, who has accused the Chief Minister’s camp of triggering a public debate on his induction as minister, has reportedly stood by his earlier demand for the deputy chief minister’s post with the hefty Home portfolio.
The Chief Minister has thus far refused to hand over the Home portfolio, which had been handed over to his close aide Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan around this time last year when he was forced to bring changes following the induction of a fifth IUML minister and the subsequent disruption in communal balance in the Ministry.
Mr. Radhakrishnan has reportedly expressed his strong reservations about divesting him of the Home portfolio. In television interviews, he had broadly indicated his resentment in as many words.
Going by the power dynamics of the Congress, holding the Home portfolio is crucial since it happens to be the insignia of power.
Surrendering Home will also disrupt the current balance in the sharing of the portfolios between the two main Congress factions, it has been pointed out.
According to Congress sources, the main attempt of the formula-makers is to ensure an honourable deal for Mr. Chennithala, a settlement commensurate with his status as KPCC president.
One of the formulas being discussed is that Mr.Chandy will take over the Home portfolio by inducting Mr. Chennithala as deputy chief minister with Revenue.
It is possible that Adoor Prakash will be given Forest leaving open the larger question of accommodating Mr. Radhakrishnan in an honourable manner in the Cabinet.
If the current round of discussions makes headway, a meeting between Mr. Chandy and Mr. Chennithala may materialise by Tuesday when the latter returns from his tour of Kozhikode and Kannur, the sources said.