National

Kerala: Chennithala entry may help Chandy crack the whip in ruling coalition

| Updated on: Jan 01, 2014

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala has been sworn in as a front-ranking Minister in the Oommen Chandy-led Government.

Governor Nikhil Kumar administered oath of office and secrecy to the 57-year-old. His earlier stint in a government was in 1986 at the age of 30, a record by itself.

His anointment on Wednesday is expected to lead warring factions in the State unit of the Congress to call for truce during the short period leading up to Lok Sabha elections.

LIKELY PORTFOLIO Chennithala is tipped to get the Home portfolio in place of outgoing Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan who is being assigned Forests and Transport.

His induction and swapping of portfolios seek to correct a striking imbalance in the caste and political counterweights that rival factions wield against each other in the coalition.

Having achieved this largely at the high command’s instance, the two-year-old government with a wafer-thin majority is expected to drop anchor and get down to serious business.

It was not allowed this luxury since its hands were tied by unruly coalition members who have been making the best of the faction feud in the Congress and the State of general drift.

LENDS STABILITY Viewed in this context, Chennithala’s entry will lend some stability to the government and enable the Chief Minister to show the fringe elements their place in the coalition.

Some of them had the audacity to push their claim for a seat from the State for the Lok Sabha elections and have been talking in a patronising tone for quite some time.

Knowing fully well that the Chief Minister has his hands full fighting fire, they had threatened ‘to explore options’ if their demands are left unheeded.

But none of them was in a position to precipitate a crisis since there was no knowing if they will be able to make it back should a snap poll be called.

OPPOSITION STANCE But this could well have been the only option since the Opposition Left said they would be choosy entertaining all and sundry to jumping ship to set sail with it.

The Opposition would rather carry on with their protests within the Assembly and out of it and rather wait for the government to crumble under its own weight of contradictions.

At one time, Finance Minister K.M. Mani was ‘projected’ as an alternative choice for Chief Minister with Left backing in a move marked by vengeful stealth and crude politics.

The consummate politician that he is, Mani kept the rumour mills buzzing by evading a straight answer initially but opening up after the Opposition called his bluff.

Chennithala’s entry is a necessary evil that Chandy will celebrate to himself; but it may not quite be the New Year gift that he has wagered on.

>vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 01, 2014

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