Political issues will dominate Thursday’s meeting of the ruling United Democratic Front’s high-power committee, which is meeting after gap of three months, with the demand for re-induction of Kerala Congress(B) nominee K.B. Ganesh Kumar into the Oommen Chandy Cabinet all set to become the most contentious issue.
The meeting is being held against the backdrop of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s discussions with UDF partners, particularly the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which has been blocking even the most routine coalition meetings as it wants the Congress party to sort out its internal problems. The meeting has become possible only after the Congress leadership took visible action in this direction. The IUML has every reason to attend the meeting in a better frame of mind because of its success in putting an end to jibes from some Congress leaders.
The main political agenda would be to project a united face prior to the Lok Sabha election. There would also be an attempt to put the administration back on track and capitalise on some of the pro-people decisions the coalition had taken prior to the Onam festival, including clearing all payments of welfare pensions. How far the coalition leadership would succeed in this is not yet clear. The UDF will also discuss the ongoing agitation of the Opposition Left Democratic Front against the Chief Minister and plan a strategy to over come this ahead of the resumption of his mass contact programme.
Senior UDF leaders say that the coalition will not find time to discuss several pending issues such as amendments to the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, amendments to the fair value fixed for land, and residual issues related to the reconstitution of corporations and boards. Another major issue pending before the UDF is with regard to increasing the appointment age for government service. The proposal of the Labour Department has been pending for political clearance. The proposal is to increase the age of entry by five years, uniformly across various reservation categories.