Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has taken the short cut by holding discussions with the leaders of coalition partners on the terms of reference of the proposed judicial probe into the solar scam in view of the problems in convening a formal meeting of the liaison committee of the United Democratic Front.
It is over a month since the UDF committee has met mainly because the Indian Union Muslim League wanted the internal problems in the Congress and some of its own issues to be settled first prior to convening the meetings. With little prospects of the committee being convened in the near future, the Chief Minister had no option but to go through the rigmarole of holding one to one discussions with the leaders of certain coalition partners.
The outcome of such talks itself became doubtful since some of the UDF leaders said that no meaningful discussion could be held since they were not privy to the 26-page proposal submitted by the Left Democratic Front in response to the State Government letter seeking their views on the Terms of reference on the judicial probe. It is quite obvious that the Chief Minister has been prompted to take the discussion route to measure up to the rare show of unanimity in the LDF on its stand on the TOR. At the end of the day, each of the UDF partners participated in Mr. Chandy’s discussions, particularly the junior partners who have been grumbling about the lack of any debates.
The LDF is firm on the resignation of the Chief Minister in connection with the solar scam and the involvement of his office staff. It has stepped up the vigour of its ongoing agitation demanding the Chief Minister’s resignation in an attempt to deflect charges that its Secretariat siege had been called off as part of an understanding with the UDF. The Opposition agitation has succeeded in putting a brake on the Chief Minister’s swarming popularity, virtually forcing him to call of his mass contact programmes across the districts. The agitations have also helped the LDF to coalesce in contrast to the utter disarray in the UDF, which suddenly finds itself beset with intractable problems.
In this context, a judicial inquiry, if possible by a sitting judge, has now become a priority for Mr. Chandy if only to clear his name after all the allegations slung at him in the solar scam. Tactically, he has been trying his level best not to get into a full-blown confrontation with the LDF, keeping options open. His decision to write to the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, requesting her to reconsider the decision not to spare a sitting judge for the probe, should be viewed in this context, especially since the suggestion to write to her came from the CPI (M) leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. He has by now accepted all the demands of the LDF, except perhaps the issue of his resignation, besides clearly indicating that he was solely responsible for all the decisions related to the solar scam.