In a move that could lead to a break-up, Kerala Congress(B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai on Tuesday took the extreme step of submitting an official letter to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stating his party’s decision to withdraw its lone Minister from the State Cabinet.
Though Mr. Pillai had on earlier occasions threatened to withdraw the Minister from the Cabinet, this is for the first time that he has given it in writing to the Chief Minister, who is also chairman of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).
Letter sought by UDF
A meeting of the UDF high-power committee which discussed the issue on Monday had asked for a formal letter in this regard.
It was also decided that the Chief Minister would take an appropriate decision after examining the legal aspects in the matter.
The two-paragraph letter, delivered to the Chief Minister by Tuesday noon by Kerala Congress(B) general secretaries C. Venugopalan Nair and V.S. Manoj Kumar, stated that the party’s State committee meeting in Kochi had decided to withdraw Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar from the Cabinet since he was not functioning as per the directives of the party and had distanced himself from the party. All UDF leaders were informed of the party’s decision and the official letter was being submitted as per the UDF’s decision on Monday in this regard, Mr. Pillai said in the letter.
According to sources, the Chief Minister informed the KC(B) mediators that he would take the necessary action after examining the issue.
Meanwhile, the KC(B) faction led by Mr. Ganesh Kumar issued a statement in the evening on behalf of its State ad hoc committee alleging that the demand had been made only to further the vested interests of certain scheming leaders and on account of personal animosity towards the Minister. The party chairman had fallen for their schemes. The UDF leadership would hopefully take a decision on the basis of the ground realities. These sections were opposed to Mr. Ganesh Kumar because he did not permit unnecessary interference in the functioning of his department and there was no scope for committing any corrupt acts in his department.
The statement, issued in the name of Pachalur Jayachandran, organising secretary of the KC(B) Ganesh Kumar faction, maintained that more than half of the members of the Minister’s staff were persons appointed as per the direction of the party chairman and other leaders. The three chairmen he had appointed to three public sector undertakings including the Kerala State Film Development Corporation were persons from the cinema field.
The appointments had been made after getting the Chief Minister’s permission, the statement said.