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Chandy, Chennithala patch-up in final stage

Chandy, Chennithala patch-up in final stage

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress high command is all set to settle the thorny issues between Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state party chief Ramesh Chennithala.

Chandy is set to return to Delhi Thursday evening to finalise a cabinet berth for Chennithala, who has been camping in the national capital for the past few days.

Since the chief minister will need the concurrence of the state government's allies, he will be accompanied on the Delhi trip by the top brass of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Kerala Congress-Mani.

"Since the Congress leads a coalition government here, all issues concerning the government and otherwise are always finalised by taking into confidence our allies. We will sit down and discuss all issues under the guidance of our party high command," Chandy said.

Chennithala's induction into the Kerala cabinet has riven the state Congress unit in recent months. He has served as state Congress president for eight years and there is need to accommodate him in the cabinet as he gets set to demit office.

Chennithala supporters want him to be given either the home portfolio or made the deputy chief minister. Some think he should occupy both posts.

"Giving him home would be suicidal. We'd rather have a CPI-M leader hold the home portfolio," a close confidant of the chief minister said sarcastically, seeking anonymity for obvious reasons.

The state unit has had many such legendary rivals. In the past, the factions formed around former chief minister K. Karunakaran, who died in December 2010, and A.K. Antony, now India's defence minister.

"The present stand-off in the party is nothing compared to the days of Karunakaran and Antony. All issues will soon be amicably settled," said union Food and Civil Supplies Minister K.V. Thomas, considered one of the beneficiaries of the Karunakaran-Antony tussle in 2001.

The party must also look to pacify its allies. The IUML, on two previous occasions, was allotted the deputy chief minister's post and might expect it again. State Finance Minister K.M. Mani of the Kerala Congress-Mani has been pitching for a minister of state post for his son Jose K. Mani, a Lok Sabha member from Kottayam, ever since UPA-2 came to power in 2009.

"In politics, it's all about making the right moves and striking while the iron is hot. All the players feel it's now or never. Given the acumen of the high command, we can expect these issues to be settled by tomorrow (Friday) evening," a close aide of Chennithala said.


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