Says Congress cannot usurp portfolios in an arbitrary manner as done now

Kerala Congress (B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai has taken exception to the “arbitrary manner” in which the portfolios once held by the party have been taken over by the Congress in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

He was referring to media reports that Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who was stripped of his Home portfolio, would be given charge of Forests and Wildlife instead. Mr. Pillai said the portfolio of Forests was given to the party as a constituent of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF). It was without the approval of the party that the portfolio was now being given to Mr. Radhakrishnan, he said.

“The Congress can shuffle the portfolios it already holds among its Ministers. It is improper and immoral to snatch away the portfolios of another party,” he said.

Never had such an incident occurred earlier. “When the National Democratic Party (NDP) decided to recall its Minister in the then K. Karunakaran Ministry, the portfolio was held by the Chief Minister himself. No new member was inducted by the Congress in place of the NDP representative,” the KC(B) chairman said, adding that he could cite any number of cases as precedent.

Chandy dared

“Will Chief Minister Oommen Chandy dare take away portfolios now being held either by P.K. Kunhalikutty or K.M. Mani,” asked Mr. Pillai. “Did the Congress leadership do this to us because we are smaller in number?” he asked.

An arbitrary takeover of portfolios could not happen in a coalition system. “I have been part of the coalition politics since the 1960s,” he said. It was out of political decency that he refused to interfere in the internal affairs of the Congress, though the Congress had not reciprocated the gesture, Mr. Pillai said.

Mr. Pillai said he did not go to Ramesh Chennithala’s swearing-in ceremony as he was not aware of the function. To another question, Mr. Pillai said he would resign from the chairmanship of the Forward Communities Welfare Corporation once he got the consent of Nair Service Society general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair.

“I took over as chairman as per his directive,” he said. He told mediapersons that he would reveal his decision in two days.

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