Party High Command gives him leeway

The Congress High Command has permitted Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take a decision on the terms of reference for the proposed judicial investigation into the solar scam, including the issue of bringing the Chief Minister and his office within its ambit.

This was conveyed to Mr. Chandy when he met the High Command representatives, including Mukul Wasnik, general secretary, All India Congress Committee.

Mr. Chandy held discussions on the further stages of the revamp of the party apparatus with Mr. Wasnik. The process is expected to gather steam once Mr. Wasnik visits the State in the last week of September.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala had taken the view that the Chief Minister was free to take a decision on the terms of reference.

Mr. Chandy had hoped to hold discussions on the terms of reference with Congress president Sonia Gandhi during her visit planned for September 7 and 8. The visit was put off following her indisposition and subsequent treatment in the U.S. The Chief Minister felt that the High Command’s views should be sought on the issue of including him and his office within the purview of the judicial investigation.

The Opposition Left Democratic Front’s main demand is for Mr. Chandy’s resignation and including the Chief Minister’s Office and his role in the terms of reference. Mr. Chandy has agreed to the demands other than for his resignation. Some of the UDF partners such as the Indian Union Muslim League had cautioned the Chief Minister against taking this route since it was “risky.” The Chief Minister, it seems, does not want to delay a decision on the terms of reference, in the face of the continuing Opposition agitations.

The Home Department is expected to prepare a draft of the terms prior to a formal Cabinet decision. Various United Democratic Front partners have expressed their views on the terms, but it not clear if the Opposition will be given a chance to express its views on the draft.

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