Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that he will make only minimum changes in the Cabinet with the induction of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala into the Ministry on Wednesday. No one will be dropped from the Cabinet.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the Chief Minister said the demand for the induction of Kerala Congress (B) leader K.B. Ganesh Kumar into the Cabinet and other changes would be discussed and decided after the coming Lok Sabha polls. The demand of the Kerala Congress (B) was justifiable. “A Cabinet reshuffle is on the cards after the elections,” he said.

The portfolio changes following the induction of Mr. Chennithala would be announced only after the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan at 11.20 a.m. on Wednesday, though decisions had already been taken.

Mr. Chandy recalled that Mr. Chennithala’s induction into the Cabinet was under consideration of the Congress high command for long, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had given permission on December 27. A formal announcement was made after discussions with all concerned, he said.

The Chief Minister said that while the high command suggested induction of new ministers and its directive was binding to all, it was the prerogative of the Chief Minister to allocate portfolios. The high command would not intervene in the allocation of portfolios, and he proposed only minimum changes. The decision to induct Mr. Chennithala would strengthen the Ministry and the United Democratic Front (UDF).

New KPCC chief

Mr. Chandy said the high command was expected to name the new KPCC president at the earliest. The choice of a leader for the post had not been discussed in the party, and he had not opposed the appointment of any one, including V.M. Sudheeran, as reported in the media. The last word on the issue was that of the high command.

On LDF strike

Asked about the withdrawal of black flag demonstrations and boycott of his functions by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), the Chief Minister said the decision had brought relief to the police and the CPI(M). “For me, demonstrations and boycott had become routine,” he said.

He said he had done nothing to facilitate the withdrawal of the strike. He had not even criticised the agitation. While the LDF constituents proposed action against some leaders for sharing dais with him, senior leaders had been present at his functions. This had amused him, Mr. Chandy said.

Budget presentation

He said the presentation of the State Budget for the coming year would not be possible on January 17 as proposed earlier because a meeting of the All India Congress Committee was scheduled for that day. The new date would be decided at a meeting of legislature party leaders to be convened by the Speaker on Wednesday.

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