Ramesh Chennithala’s historic blunder

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The State Congress chief, Mr Ramesh Chennithala, will rue his political misjudgment of not joining the cabinet, making it conditional that his protégé should succeed him as the State Congress chief.

“Till the last, the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, coaxed Mr Chennithala, albeit thru friends, to join the team and plug the deficit of majority Hindu community representation in the Cabinet.

He was offered DyCM and Home. But Mr Chennithala wanted a commitment on the Pradesh chief,” said a top UDF leader.

Mr Chandy feared this was suicidal, to hand over to Mr Chennithala the control of both police and organization and script an epitaph for his group in the party.

The persuasion went right up to the swearing-in, some say even up to less than half an hour of the schedule.

When Mr Chennithala did not relent, Mr Chandy sought the high command’s final nod to shuffle portfolios of Congress Ministers and bring in the fifth League Minister, juggling the League portfolios.

Mr Chandy picked his all-weather buddy, Mr Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan, who is much a Nair like Mr Chennithala.

Now it’ ll be a long haul for Mr Chennithala unless the high command intervenes and redraws the Congress lineup in the cabinet.

His mortal fear of losing control of the “I” group to someone like his predecessor, Mr K Muraleedharan, had perhaps blinded his political calculations.

Mr Chandy pulled off a masterstroke, sacrificing Home, to ensure his Ministry’s stability and infuse a semblance of communal balancing.

He shifted “I” group nominees, Mr V S Sivakumar and Mr Adoor Prakash from Transport and Health to Health and Revenue respectively to ensure group equations in the Cabinet.

Developments have left many red-faced. The NSS general secretary, G. Sukumaran Nair, exposed his blatant loyalties, calling the Cabinet a KKK cabal of Kunjunju (Chandy), Kunhalikutty and Kunju Mani. The BJP organized a hartal of sorts as if an alien was being sworn in.

A section of Congressmen feels that Mr Chandy should have stuck to the time-tested formula of four Ministers and the Government chief whip for the League and settled it upfront without allowing it to fester for the last ten months.

Instead, he tried to bring in the KPCC executive as a ploy to bail himself out.

The AICC general secretary, Mr Madhusoodhananan Mistry, spared the high command of any responsibility for the mess: “The decision was taken here though after discussions with Centre. It’s for the State to settle it now.”

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