Oommen Chandy's cabinet rejig could be delayed
The much talked about cabinet rejig that Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced ahead of the Lok Sabha elections could be delayed, said sources close to him Friday.
As per the law, the size of the cabinet in the state including the chief minister should not exceed 21 and today there are no vacancies in the cabinet.
Last year, Minister for Forests K.B. Ganesh Kumar had to quit after his wife complained of domestic violence and in that post Chandy inducted the then state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala.
Kumar, meanwhile, got the matter resolved through an out of court settlement. The couple opted for a mutually agreeable divorce.
Kumar's father R. Balakrishna Pillai, one of the founders of the ruling United Democratic Front and head of the Kerala Congress (Pillai), has now demanded that Chandy keep his word and re-induct his son into the cabinet.
Fromer central minister Kodikunnil Suresh, who retained the Mavelikera Lok Sabha seat, openly supported Kumar for the ministership, saying both father and son had worked relentlessly to ensure victory of the UDF candidates at Mavelikera and Kollam.
Meanwhile, Pillai threatened that if his son is not taken back, he will have no other option but to wash dirty linen in public over the infamous solar scam case.
The case saw three of Chandy's staff getting booted out for their closeness to main accused Saritha S. Nair.
"This is sheer blackmailing technique...please recall the number of times Pillai has changed his stand," said a senior UDF leader who did not wish to be identified.
"Initially, he wanted Chandy to oust his son from the cabinet. Then when the father-son duo patched up, he said his son can remain. Again he changed his stand and said his party does not need a cabinet berth, and now he wants a berth for his son," the source said.
With Pillai upping his antennae, Chandy, who is always favourable to Kumar because of his style of functioning, has put his foot down. Chandy is now deeply upset with Pillai for his arm-twisting tactics, sources close to the chief minister said.
"He has already gone on record that the cabinet re-jig can wait and has challenged Pillai to come out with what he has on the solar scam," said the UDF leader.
Chandy has managed to muster support from Chennithala and Sudheeran as they also know that if Kumar has to be accommodated, one of the Congress ministers has to bow out and that will be a tricky affair.
(Posted on 23-05-2014)