LDF likely to include single-MLA parties in cabinet

Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM will not completely reject the six one-MLA parties’ demand for cabinet berths, though all the parties could not be accorded ministerial posts.

The CPI may forgo one of its seats and the post of the Chief Whip with cabinet rank, if it would help in solving the issue rising out of single-MLA parties’ demand.

If a consensus formula eludes the issue, representatives from all the six parties may not be considered to the cabinet.

To tide over the issue, the CPM has suggested a merger of Janata Dal (Secular) Loktanrik Janata Dal at the earliest. The senior LDF partner has clarified that both the Dals cannot be given a ministerial post each. The Dals have agreed to try for a merger.

If the Dals decide to merge, the number of single-MLA parties will come down to five. Of the five, Kovoor Kunjumon of RSB (B) is not part of the LDF, but has been offering outside support, and hence could be avoided.

Once Kunjumon’s demand for ministerial berth is denied, the LDF will have to deal with only four others: Ramachandran Kadannappally (Congress-S), Ahammad Devarkovil (Indian National League), K B Ganesh Kumar (Kerala Congress-B), and Antony Raju (Democratic Kerala Congress).

The strength of the cabinet will be increased to 21 from the present 20. Two posts will be vacant if the cabinet berths are shared, with CPM having 12, CPI four, Kerala Congress one, NCP 1 and the Dals one. The LDF will later consider whether to accommodate four single-MLA parties or ask them to take turns in the cabinet.

The Kerala Congress, which has demanded two ministerial posts, is like to get one. The party may also be offered the post of the Chief Whip, currently held by the CPI.

The CPM is not inclined to ignore the smaller LDF allies, even though the party, along with CPI, has 84 MLAs in the 140-member Assembly. The Marxist party felt it may cause discord within the Front while forming the cabinet.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan will hold talks with junior LDF partners between Monday and Wednesday. The CPM and CPI will hold bilateral talks once again to finalise the formation of the cabinet before an LDF meet slated for May 17.

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