The wait is over for the Kerala Congress (P.C. Thomas) faction and its lone legislator V. Surendran Pillai. The State committee of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) has given the nod for his induction into the V.S. Achuthanandan Cabinet.
The LDF panel, which met here on Tuesday, did not take any decision on the portfolio to be given to Mr. Pillai. From available indications, that decision is likely only on Friday when the CPI(M) State secretariat meets. The Thomas faction leaders are likely to call on Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on Wednesday, both as a matter of courtesy and to know his mind on the subject. Although there was talk immediately after the LDF panel meeting that the Public Works portfolio would be given to Mr. Pillai, senior front leaders were not willing to confirm it.
The CPI(M) has kept its word by giving Cabinet berth to the Thomas faction and there was no dissent in the LDF committee to the decision. The CPI(M) leaders took the lead in suggesting that Mr. Pillai be inducted into the Cabinet. The proposal found acceptance from all other constituents. The only rider came from the NCP representatives who ever so mildly tried to remind the front leadership about their eligibility for a Cabinet berth. However, they themselves conceded that they were yet to discuss the issue in the party State committee.
Forest Minister Benoy Viswom briefed the LDF panel about the proposal for notifying around 17,922 acres of government land in Idukki district as reserve forest in the light of resistance to the proposal from local residents and farmers. According to front sources, the Minister clarified that the proposed notification would not cause large-scale dislocation as was being made out. He also offered to personally clarify matters to the local LDF leadership. The panel, therefore, decided to defer the decision on the issue to its next meeting on August 12.
It also discussed the Kerala High Court verdict relating to encroachment on private land by Adivasis in Wayanad district and the need to implement the court order to evict them before August 31. The panel asked the government to take appropriate action as required under the court order.