Hectic parleys in Delhi over possible Kerala cabinet reshuffle

Kochi, July 28 : Kerala Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala has been in Delhi for the past two days, and state Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will reach the national capital Sunday night, as parleys are on over a possible reshuffle in the state cabinet.

The Chandy government, which completed two years in office in May this year, is now embroiled in the "solar scam", where a fraudster couple that cheated several people of large sums of money on the promise of providing solar panels at subsidised rates was found to have close links with members of the chief minister's personal staff and some Congress ministers.

A member of Chandy's personal staff has been arrested in the case.

As he prepared to take the flight to Delhi, the chief minister told reporters: "We are all bound by the decision of our party high command. All of us will abide by it."

Chennithala, who has been the president of the state unit of the Congress for the past eight years, had made an attempt to enter the state cabinet some months ago. However, a faction of legislators who owe allegiance to Chandy thwarted that attempt, as they refused to grant Chennithala the prized home portfolio that he sought.

Chandy has been forced on the back foot by the solar scam. The opposition has demanded that the chief minister should quit over the scam, and alleged that even members of his family are involved.

There is hope in some quarters that if Chennithala is inducted into the state cabinet at this time, the relentless attacks on Chandy from the media and the opposition would at least not be compounded by the indifference of fellow-Congressmen.

However, Chennithala might be wary of joining the cabinet at a time when Chandy's government is in the thick of a controversy.

If Chennithala enters the cabinet, other changes would be in the offing too -- the state would need a new chief of its Congress unit. Among those considered front-runners for the post are V.M. Sudheeran, who has not held a post after his shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, and present speaker of the Kerala assembly G. Karthikeyan.

--IANS (Posted on 28-07-2013)

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