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Hectic discussions in Congress to fill Ganesh's portfolio

Hectic discussions in Congress to fill Ganeshs portfolio

Thiruvananthapuram: Hours after Kerala Forests Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar resigned, hectic discussions began in the Congress on his replacement as one of its members will possibly fill the vacant post and this may also lead to a reshuffle of portfolios.

Kumar resigned late Monday night after his estranged wife filed a complaint of domestic violence with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the local police station.

"This is a blessing for us because one of our legislators can now go on to become a minister," said a Congress leader who did not wish to be identified.

The ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) comprises the Congress with 39 legislators, Indian Union Muslim League (20), Kerala Congress-Mani (9), Socialist Janata Dal (2), and Kerala Congress-Jacob, Kerala Congress-Pillai and Revolutionary Socialist Party with one seat each.

With the UDF having just 73 seats in the 140-member assembly, even parties with single legislators went on to win ministerial berths, while the IUML extracted a fifth post for the first time.

The biggest loser was the Congress party which had to be satisfied with 10 cabinet posts, including Chandy. But with the resignation of Ganesh Kumar, who was the sole member of his Kerala Congress-Pillai, the Congress is certain to take the slot.

With caste and community playing a major role when it comes to distribution of seats and cabinet posts, the Congress is certain to opt for a candidate from the powerful Hindu Nair community to which Ganesh Kumar belonged.

Leading hopefuls include K. Karunakaran's son K. Muraleedharan, V.D. Sateeshan and T. Sivadasan Nair.

And in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, there is speculation that Chandy might consider including state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala as the deputy chief minister and might go for a reshuffle of portfolios of the Congress ministers.

"If he manages to rope in Chennithala, then he will be able to keep aside the post of the president of the party for a Hindu Ezhava leader and the possible names include V.M. Sudheeran, a darling of the Congress high command," said another Congress leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


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