Chandy faces opposition from Congress leaders
The move to re-induct former Minister and Kerala Congress(B) legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar into the Oommen Chandy Cabinet gathered steam on Monday, but it appears to have run into strong opposition within the Congress cutting across factional preferences.
The liaison committee of the United Democratic Front (UDF) had earlier authorised Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take appropriate decision at the appropriate time. Taking cue from the growing opposition within his party, Mr. Chandy promptly took a cautious stand. Responding to questions on Monday, Mr. Chandy maintained that the UDF committee slated to meet on October 28 would take a final decision after he completed the due process of discussions with coalition leaders.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala made things a bit difficult for the Chief Minister by remaining non-committal on the re-induction of Mr. Ganesh Kumar, who had to quit under threat of being hauled up under the Domestic Violence Act by his wife, Yamini Thankachi. Mr. Chennithala, responding to questions by mediapersons, said the Chief Minister was free to take a decision since the inclusion of Mr. Ganesh Kumar in the Cabinet was his prerogative.
Mr. Chennithala apparently did not want to be a party to an issue against the backdrop of earlier moves to induct him as a Minister in the vacancy caused by Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s resignation. Senior Congress leaders, including Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran, and former KPCC president K. Muraleedharan openly aired their differences at the Chief Minister’s move. Kerala Congress(M) leader and Government Chief Whip P.C. George also continued his opposition to the move, but he seemed to have reduced his critical tone.
Mr. Ganesh Kumar has been waiting on the sidelines for the last five months for the re-entry after going in for an out-of-court settlement for his domestic issues. His father and party chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai, on the suggestion of the UDF leadership later on, made a written request seeking his son’s re-induction on the basis of the coalition’s norm of allotting a berth to partners on their relative strength. Mr. Pillai, who was at loggerheads with Mr. Ganesh Kumar during his term as Minister, sought to come back into political reckoning by taming his son.
The Chief Minister is keen to bring back Mr. Ganesh Kumar for various reasons. With the Congress and the UDF all set to play its minority card, Mr. Chandy wants Mr. Ganesh Kumar to set the balance. He also hopes to build a bridge with the Nair Service Society (NSS), capitalising on the close ties that Mr. Pillai has with the organisation’s general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair. But Mr. Pillai has already distanced himself from any such attempts to link his party’s demand to the problems the Chief Minister has with the NSS. The NSS stand on the re-entry of Mr. Ganesh Kumar also is not clear at this point of time, though its leadership had made some remarks about it earlier
Mr. Chandy will have to outlast the opposition from his own party seniors who have expressed doubts about the wisdom of the re-induction, especially when the UDF and the Chief Minister had ruptured their image as a result of the solar scam and other controversies.