The Congress in Kerala has plunged into a crisis with two of its top leaders — chief minister Oommen Chandy and state president Ramesh Chennithala — engaged in a bitter squabble over the latter’s induction into the cabinet with a plum portfolio.
Tension started after Chandy proposed that Chennithala join the cabinet to assuage the powerful Nair community that is upset with the government for “ignoring its interests.” The Nair service society had alleged that the government is run by a Christian-Muslim clique.
The PCC chief’s camp demanded that since Chennithala, a former president of NSUI and Youth Congress, had become an MLA at the age of 25 and a cabinet minister at 27, he should be made the deputy CM or that the home portfolio be given to him.
Under Chennithala’s leadership, his supporters argued, the party had won most Lok Sabha seats in 2009 and returned to power in the state in 2011.
While his contemporaries became central ministers and chief ministers of different states, he stayed in the party as an AICC secretary, a permanent invitee to CWC and then as PCC chief.
Chandy’s supporters were joined by ally Muslim League which contended that the number two position in the government cannot go to the Congress.
While the central leadership maintained that the issue has to be sorted by the two leaders themselves, Chennithala has left it to the party high command to decide.
“I have been an organisational man for decades. I never ran after any post. In the future too, I will be happy with whatever responsibility is given to me by the high command,” he said.