The death of Kerala food minister TM Jacob (61) on Sunday night has reduced the majority of the Oommen Chandy government to one seat.
Kerala Congress (J) leader Jacob died at a private hospital in Kochi after multi-organ failure, leaving the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in lurch. In the 140-member house the UDF had a wafer-thin majority of two but now it has been reduced to one (UDF 71, LDF 68 and one seat vacant). A minor desertion or absenteeism will affect the stability of the six-month-old Chandy government.
Since the belligerent CPM-led opposition is exploring all possibilities to corner the ruling front, tough days are ahead for the UDF government.
"We are in mourning. It is not the right time to discuss this," said a senior Congress leader, skirting the issue. But many leaders admitted in private the going would be tough in the coming days. The worried Congress leadership has already alerted the allies and their MLAs about the current tricky situation.
The legislators have been asked to remain in the state capital when the assembly session is on. Since the allies are putting the government in trouble too frequently, they have been asked to avoid controversies.
The government's Monday move clearing the release of 138 prisoners to mark the state formation day, including former minister R Balakrishna Pillai, would only add to its woes.
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan, who was instrumental in getting jail term for Pillai, has already said he would move court if Pillai was released.