UDF offers post with Cabinet rank to Pillai

The high-power committee of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) has resolved to induct a Congress nominee into the Oommen Chandy Cabinet to fill the vacancy created by Kerala Congress(B) nominee K.B. Ganesh Kumar’s resignation as Forest Minister.

The proposal for inducting a replacement for Mr. Ganesh Kumar was placed before the meeting by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who wished to be relieved of the additional burden so that he could focus on general issues.

The discussion turned to the possibility of the Congress providing the replacement when KC(B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai made it clear that his party did not wish to have a nominee in the Cabinet. His only condition was that he should be consulted about the new Minister. The discussions in the UDF high-power committee appeared to indicate the possibility of much more than the induction of just one person into the Cabinet.

The UDF leadership meeting also offered to Mr. Pillai the chairmanship of the Forward Communities Welfare Commission with Cabinet rank. Front convener P.P. Thankachan said Mr. Pillai with his long experience and maturity was quite suited for the post. On the possibility of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala becoming a Minister, he said Mr. Chennithala was in every way fit to become a Minister. He, however, hastened to add that only the Congress high command could take a decision on this.

The UDF meeting decided to have bilateral meetings before its next full meeting. Congress leaders would hold talks with representatives of the Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS) and the Communist Marxist Party (CMP) on May 22, with the Kerala Congress(B) on May 28, with the Socialist Janata (Democratic) on May 29, and with the Indian Union Muslim League on May 30. The full meeting of the UDF high-power committee would take place on May 30.

The UDF leadership also asked the government to sanction higher secondary schools in the 148 panchayats which did not have them. Panchayats that have higher secondary schools but did not have sufficient number of seats would be sanctioned more seats and batches. Preference would be given to the government sector when sanctioning schools, batches, and seats, but where necessary, the aided sector would also get preference, Mr. Thankachan said.

He said the meeting had directed the Education Minister to submit a list of schools to be sanctioned. He had also been told to submit to the committee details regarding the implementation of the Right to Education Act in the State, Mr. Thankachan said.

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