Kerala state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala would join the Cabinet led by Oommen Chandy, in a bid to improve party’s relation with upper class Hindu vote bank. Hindu Nair outfit Nair Service Society has been sulking over the Congress’ reluctance to induct Chennithala, a Nair, into the cabinet.
Chennithala’s entry into the Cabinet has been in the air for several months, but a final decision came on Monday, after Defence Minister A K Antony held discussions with the leaders in Thiruvananthapuram and conveyed the party high command’s intention in this regard. Chennithala is likely to get the Home portfolio, which is currently held by another Nair Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.
During earlier rounds of discussion on Chennithala’s induction into the cabinet, his ‘I’ group had stuck to the stand that he should join the cabinet only as a home minister as that post would make him the second in command in the Chandy government. It is almost sure that Chennithala would get the home department.
United Democratic Front convener P P Thankachan told the media on Tuesday that a decision on Chennithala’s portfolio would be taken today and he is likely to swear in as a minister on Wednesday. For the time being, Chennithala would continue as the party state president. Radhakrishnan would be given due role, indicating that he would be retained in the cabinet.
After the resignation of Kerala Congress (B) nominee K B Ganesh Kumar as forest minister in the wake of a case related to domestic violence, Chandy has been holding the departments of forest and sports. Kumar is also a Hindu Nair and close to NSS. With Ramesh becoming the home minister, Radhakrishnan is likely to be rehabilitated in the cabinet with one of the portfolios held by Kumar.
But, the Congress would have to tackle rebellion from senior UDF leader R Balakrishna Pillai, who wanted his son Kumar taken back into the cabinet. Kumar had settled the complaints related to domestic violence registered by his estranged wife.
NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair welcomed the party decision to take Chennithala into the cabinet. Earlier, the NSS leader had threatened the Congress with dire consequences in the coming elections if Chennithala is given a key position in the government.