Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government headed by powerful chief minister Oommen Chandy has been undergoing worst form of infights first time since the ministry took over in May 2011, thanks to megalomania of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief Ramesh Chennithala. People believed that Ramesh was craving for the CM’s hot seat when he decided to contest to State Assembly in 2011. But, Keralites in general and political observers in particular, did not give it any currency since Kerala’s most charismatic Congresss leader, second only to AK Antony, was in the election fray. And, their predictions were proved right when Chandy took over the reign of the government. Since then legislature wing and party leadership were in exemplary rapport until recently, unlike the Karunakaran era when both wings were at logger heads 24 x 7.
But, apple cart got a jolt just after the recently concluded Kerala Yatra of Ramesh. Suddenly his supporters (read “I-group” founded by late Karunakaran) asked for the deputy chief ministership and home ministry for Ramesh. Home ministry once handled by CM himself, had been handed over to A-group (AK Antony group led by Chandy) veteran and CM’s trusted lieutenant Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan when the “5th Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) minister was inducted last year. It was a futile magic to dismiss the allegations that government was dominated by minority communities. The 5th minister issue invited the wrath of Nair Service Society (NSS, the organisation of Hindu Nair community) and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP, the organisation of OBC Ezhava Hindus). Naturally Chandy was not ready to take home portfolio from Thiruvanchoor and to give the same to an I-group man. But, Ramesh and his supporters were not ready for any sort of compromise. This is the major topic for print and electronic media in Kerala since the last couple of weeks. At last news spread that Chandy is ready to make Ramesh the deputy CM with revenue ministry and take back home ministry from Thiruvanchoor and keep with himself. And, it was almost certain that chimney of Indira Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram, would soon emit “white smoke”.
But, luck still played truant in Ramesh’s case. Even though Kerala Congress (Mani), the third largest constituent of UDF) issued their “NOC” for Ramesh’s deputy chief ministership, the second largest party, IUML, all on a sudden stole the show asserting that the position of deputy chief ministership can never be created without the deliberations within the UDF. And, if at all such a position is created it should go to IUML since it was the tradition in the past. They are true, because, their senior leaders, CH Mohammed Koya and Avukkadar Kutti Naha had been give this position during the regimes of Karunakaran. They even hinted that if their words fall in deaf ears, they would take the extreme step of leaving the ministry and then supporting it from outside. This is something like a bolt from the blue for the CM who rules with a wafer thin majority in the house. So, CM made a diplomatic statement that the media spreads wrong news that Ramesh’s induction to the ministry is all set. He wonders how can he take such a decision sans getting UDF nod and green signal from party high command.
Now, Ramesh is in a dilemma. Lot of news were spread about his Cabinet entry, but, still vehicle does not start! And, his supporters blame that A-group men instigated IUML to come out against Ramesh’s entry. But, political observers believe that IUML was persuaded by I-group men so that deputy chief ministership will be a closed chapter. Under such condition, CM will have to make some compromises in tune with high command’s words and that will result in giving home ministry to Ramesh ! In Kerala, home ministry is a de facto number two position in the ministry.
Keralites keep their fingers crossed to see what is in store for Ramesh Chennithala, once-upon-a-time blue-eyed boy of the party’s ‘first family’ in Delhi.