Discusses rumblings in State unit of Congress with Ahmed Patel, Antony

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday took time off his hectic official schedule at the national capital to discuss political issues related to Kerala with Congress Working Committee member and Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel.

The meeting assumed significance in the context of the latest factional rumblings in the State unit of the Congress, though Mr. Chandy, responding to questions by mediapersons in New Delhi, continued to maintain that he had not included political discussions in his day's schedule.

Mr. Chandy met Mr. Patel late Sunday night soon after his arrival in New Delhi. He reportedly briefed Mr. Patel about the latest political development in the Congress consequent on the induction of the fifth nominee of the Indian Union Muslim League into the State Cabinet and the reallocation of Congress Ministers' portfolios. Sources said Mr. Chandy had sought the high command's intervention to ensure the party's continued support to his government which had earned popular appreciation for its functioning and delivery of governance.

Piravom victory

The Piravom by-election victory was a vote for the performance of his government, he reportedly told Mr. Patel and explained the circumstances leading to and the imperatives of the reallocation of portfolios.

Mr. Chandy's meeting with Mr. Antony focused on the emerging factionalism in the State unit. Mr. Chandy's attempt, it appeared, was to close ranks in the run up to the Neyyattinkara by-election, due to be announced any time now. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala continues to be cut-up with the Chief Minister for the manner in which he went about reallocating the portfolios. There have been demands from various leaders for convening a meeting of the KPCC executive meeting to discuss the political situation. The party leadership will have to consider the pros and cons of convening the executive in such a charged atmosphere.

Mr. Chandy reportedly discussed the imperatives of the support extended to the former Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator R. Selvaraj in the Neyyattinkara by-election. The ruling United Democratic Front has already decided to support Mr. Selvaraj's candidature. The KPCC will soon hold discussions with Mr. Selvaraj to work out other details of the contest, including his status once he is re-elected, sources said.

In the meantime, Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi and thanked her for giving him an opportunity to serve as Home Minister. He reportedly discussed the current political situation prevailing in Kerala with her.

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