Ministerial ambitions of six legislators create fresh headache for CPM in Kerala

Kerala Cabinet Meeting (File Photo PTI)
Kerala Cabinet meeting. File Photo: Manorama Online

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the CPM in Kerala has suddenly found itself in a new crisis—that of six legislators expressing an urgent wish to become ministers. The MLAs are Ramachandran Kadannappally (Congress-S), K B Ganesh Kumar (Kerala Congress-B), Mathew T Thomas (Janata Dal-S), Thomas K Thomas (NCP), K P Mohanan (LJD) and Kovoor Kunjumon (RSP-Leninist).

In fact, these legislators dream of joining the state cabinet in November, when the second Pinayari Vijayan government will complete half of its term. However, with objections being raised to the moves of the legislators by other leaders in their parties, the stage is set for a major controversy. Meanwhile, the CPM is unhappy over the developments, as the party does not want to create a fresh crisis over the Cabinet reshuffle soon after the LDF’s debacle in the Puthuppally Assembly byelection.

When reporters approached the Chief Minister in Delhi seeking his comments on the likely Cabinet reshuffle, Pinarayi gave them a terse reply. "You keep the question to yourself," he said.

At the same time, the state CPM leadership has indicated that four parties will have new ministers after two and a half years, under an agreement reached during the formation of the ministry. "The CPM has not taken up the cabinet reshuffle as an agenda. However, ministers belonging to two parties will change after two and a half years," said CPM state secretary M V Govindan.

It is almost certain that Ramachandran Kadannappally will replace Ports Minister Ahamed Devarkovil of the INL. However, it is likely that the latest observations against Ganesh Kumar in the CBI’s report on the solar case will be used to target him. Transport Minister Antony Raju, who is supposed to give his place to Ganesh Kumar, gave an indication to this effect. "Even while sticking to the agreements during ministry formation, the new developments also have to be considered during the reshuffle. LDF will be taking a suitable decision based on the current political situation," said Antony Raju.

Kerala Congress (M) is also unhappy with Ganesh, as the CBI report has suggested that he attempted to frame its chairman Jose K Mani in the solar case.

Even then, the top CPM leaders said that Ganesh would indeed find a place in the Cabinet if the situation does not worsen. "We will follow the initial agreement on cabinet posts. There is no hindrance to Ganesh Kumar becoming a minister. The property dispute in which he is involved is only a family affair," said LDF convenor E P Jayarajan.

Jayarajan also said that no discussions were taking place on changing ministers belonging to the CPM. "These matters will be taken up only in November," he added.

Cabinet posts in the CPM are decided by the state committee. Even though the state committee is yet to meet, rumours about changing the CPM ministers have not died down.

Other ministers

There were also reports that Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty of the Janata Dal-S would be replaced by party leader Mathew T Thomas and Forest Minister A K Saseendran (NCP) with fellow party man Thomas K Thomas. However, Thomas K Thomas has realised that NCP state president P C Chacko is unwilling to make him minister in place of Saseendran and is targeting Chacko.

Meanwhile, even though Mathew T Thomas does not want to push his party into a crisis by demanding a cabinet berth, he has not abandoned his ministerial ambitions.

LJD (Loktantrik Janata Dal) is unhappy that it was ignored during cabinet formation. The CPM had not allotted a ministry to the LJD by pointing out that two Janata Dals could not have two ministers and asking it to merge with the Janata Dal-S.

Yet another ministerial hopeful is Kovoor Kunjumon of the RSP-Leninist. He wants to be admitted to the cabinet for maintaining his allegiance with the LDF even when a major section of the RSP switched loyalties to the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

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