Is Oommen Chandy caught between coalition compulsions and morality? (Kerala Newsletter)
The million-dollar question that's now hanging over Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is reinducting film star-turned-politician K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who is accused of domestic violence, in his cabinet.
Earlier this week, Ganesh Kumar created a scare when reports surfaced that he had put in his papers as a legislator to his party. It later became amply clear that it was nothing but pressure tactics.
It would be interesting to see how Chandy, with close to five decades of political experience, handles the situation. If he takes back the 47-year-old Gansh Kumar as a minister, morality issues would become the central point of discussion. If he does not, the coalition politics could be in disarray as his government has just 73 seats in the 140- member Kerala assembly.
Ganesh Kumar is the lone Kerala Congress (Pillai) member in the house and when two other single legislator party members are ministers, the point that Ganesh Kumar's father, veteran politician R. Balakrishna Pillai,has repeatedly stressed is: "Nothing can prevent our party from getting back the ministerial berth."
Trouble has been brewing in Ganesh Kumar's family for many years and reached its pinnacle when his doctor wife, Yamini Thankachi, went public early this year and, weeping at a press conference, said her husband's relations with other women has destroyed their marriage.
Soon after, the relationship turned sour and she filed a police complaint accusing her husband of domestic violence.
On the night of April 1, Thankachi submitted a written complaint to Chandy accusing her husband of domestic violence. Chandy handed it over to the director general of police.
She also filed a police complaint and a few hours after that, Ganesh Kumar submitted to Chandy his resignation as a minister.
But after this ugly episode, better sense prevailed and following an out-of-court settlement reached between them on April 11the couple filed for divorce.
"There is nothing that prevents Ganesh Kumarfrom becoming a minister again as there is no case against him now. If he is not made a minister it would not be good for the ruling alliance and the performance in the (2014) Lok Sabha polls could be marred," Pillai said.
Another interesting development that has taken place is that Ganesh Kumar's arch rival and one known for poking his nose into each and every issue in the state, P.C. George, the ruling front's chief whip in the assembly, appears to have surprisingly mellowed down his standagainst Ganesh Kumar.
"See, Chandy has a soft corner for him and hence what can one say?" said a mellowed down George.
But when asked about Ganesh Kumar's reinduction, Chandy, the master tactician that the chief minister is, said that the UDF has asked him to take a call.
" Yes, I am talking to everyone on this issue and once I am done with it, a decision would be taken," said Chandy.
Now, all eyes are on Chandy on how he plays his cards. Either way, he is certain to displease one or the other when he finally makes the call.
(Sanu George can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 12-10-2013)