Chandy to meet Sonia over cabinet berth for Chennithala

Thiruvananthapuram, May 31 (IANS) Unable to arrive at a consensus on the induction of state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala into the cabinet, the state Congress unit has sought the party high command's intervention.

Sources say Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has sought an appointment with Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday.

The current impasse arose as Chennithala is expected to demit the office as the state Congress party chief, on completing eight years in that post.

Given his stature, his supporters within the party have demanded that he be made the state home minister, and possibly also the deputy chief minister.

Aides close the Chandy, however, oppose Chennithala's appointment as the home minister.

Speculation has been rife in local media on this matter, and Chandy came down heavily on those putting out baseless reports.

"The issue is a tough one -- Chennithala cannot be given the deputy chief minister post because the second biggest ally in the United Democratic Front government, the Indian Union Muslim League, will not allow such a post to be given to the Congress," remarked a top Congress leader who did not wish to be identified.

"Chandy's faction also will not like to have Chennithala hold the home portfolio. So, the only way out, then, would be a party post for Chennithala at the national level," he added.

Meanwhile, among the names doing the rounds for the new party president to succeed Chennithala are assembly Speaker G. Karthikeyan and Minister for State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal.

The 50-year-old Venugopal is believed to have the right "Delhi connections".

With the assembly session scheduled for June 10, Chandy is also in a hurry to complete the juggle without causing any more heartburn.


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