The “induct Chennithala” move appears to have got a fresh lease of life with two major coalition partners, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Kerala Congress (M) [KC(M)], putting it across to Congress president Sonia Gandhi the imperatives of installing Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala in the Chandy Cabinet during their discussions with her late Sunday evening.
Ms. Gandhi held separate discussions with leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) constituents. The first to call on her was an IUML delegation led by E. Ahamed, P.K. Kunhalikutty, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, and K.P.A. Majeed. The discussions, held at Raj Bhavan, where Ms. Gandhi is staying, lasted for 30 minutes. Soon after this, the IUML leaders were huddled in separate discussions to evaluate the outcome of their meeting with Ms. Gandhi.
The IUML leaders reportedly wanted Ms. Gandhi’s intervention in sorting out the issues in the Congress, which alone could strengthen the UDF. The inclusion of Mr. Chennithala in the Chandy Cabinet should not be delayed any further, the leaders are understood to have stated.
KC(M) leader K.M. Mani and his delegation’s meeting with Ms. Gandhi lasted less than 30 minutes. This was followed by a joint meeting of other UDF partners. The KC(M) delegation also wanted Mr. Chennithala to be inducted into the Cabinet in a respectable slot and this should be carried out before Parliament election.
The delegation felt that the Congress leadership should take valid steps to strengthen the UDF. The Kerala Congress (M) should also be given an honourable accommodation.
It was eligible for a ministerial slot in the Central council of ministers, but the party did not press for it. The KC(M) delegation comprised Mr. Mani, P.J. Joseph, Francis George, C.F. Thomas, Joy Abraham, and P.C. George.
The KC(M) also expressed its opposition to the Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan reports on Western Ghat development. The party also wanted the hike in the import duty of rubber. According to reliable sources, Ms. Gandhi made it known to the Congress leadership that she wished to meet the delegations of the UDF constituents separately without their presence.
Ms. Gandhi also met the leaders of other coalition partners. Ms. Gandhi will later hold discussions with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Mr. Ramesh and UDF convener P.P. Thankachan. She is also expected to meet former KPCC president K. Muraleedharan and a few other Congress leaders.
Keywords: Sonia Gandhi, UPA chairperson, marginalised sections, UPA government, Oommen Chandy, Vayalar Ravi, K.C. Venugopal, Shashi Tharoor, AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala