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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Kerala Cong rift widens, spills onto streets

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Thiruvananthapuram, June 06, 2013
First Published: 23:15 IST(6/6/2013) | Last Updated: 01:21 IST(7/6/2013)

The rift in the faction-ridden Kerala unit of the Congress has widened with chief minister Oommen Chandy refusing to dump his home minister T Radhakrishnan to accommodate state party chief Ramesh Chennithala, who is eyeing the No. 2 slot in the cabinet.

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The simmering tension between the two spilled onto the streets on Thursday with Youth Congress workers of both camps clashing in Kochi. Chandy has told Chennithala to join the cabinet by accepting any portfolio other than home, which the latter declined.

Both camps have now approached the party high command to resolve the issue. To defuse the tension, the high command may accommodate Chennithala in the AICC reshuffle slated later this month, it is learnt.

The cordial relations between Chandy and Chennithala soured after the CM proposed that the state party chief join the cabinet to assuage the powerful Nair community that is upset with the growing clout of the two minority- Christian and Muslim- communities.

Then Chennithala's camp demanded that he be made deputy CM or home minister. But the CM declined and factionalism reared its head again.

Chandy, who recently returned from Delhi after meeting party president Sonia Gandhi, told Chennithala that the party was averse to creation of a deputy CM's post.

The CM put up a brave face, saying all problems would be sorted out soon. "Both of us are moving in the same direction," he said.

But Chennithala supporters feel that the PCC chief was treated shabbily.

"After suffering so much humiliation he should not become a minister now," said Joseph Vazakkan.

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