Apart from Nair Ministers or Ezhava Ministers – When we will get a Hindu Minister?

published on April 12, 2012

Protests rage in Cong over fifth Muslim League Minister

War erupted in Kerala’s Congress on Thursday over allocation of a fifth Cabinet berth to the Muslim League in the Cabinet of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Several top Congress leaders stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony of the two new Ministers amid protests all over the State against alleged disruption of community balance in the Government.

Muslim League’s Manjalamkuzhy Ali and Kerala Congress (J)’s Anoop Jacob took oath as Ministers of the Chandy Cabinet on Thursday even as the BJP observed a hartal in Thiruvananthapuram. With this, the minorities’ representation in the 21-member Chandy Cabinet rose to 12 making the majority community (with nine Ministers) a minority in the Government.

In the former 20-member LDF Cabinet led by VS Achuthanandan, the Christian community was represented by three ministers and the Muslims by just two. All the remaining 15 berths were occupied by persons from the majority community. “The Congress-led UDF has lost its political character,” said Achuthanandan referring to the granting of a fifth Cabinet post to League.

On Thursday, Chandy sought to pacify majority community outfits by shuffling the portfolios of himself and Congress Ministers loyal to him but the effort proved almost useless. He handed the Home portfolio which he was holding to his trusted lieutenant Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (belonging to the Hindu Nair community) who was in charge of Vigilance.

The Revenue portfolio was taken away from him and given to Adoor Prakash, a representative of the Hindu Ezhava community and the Health portfolio he was handling was given to VS Sivakumar, a Nair who was already handling Devaswom (temple affairs). Aryadan Muhammad was given Transports in addition to Power which he was holding.

However, the gesture could not pacify the majority community or Aryadan Muhammad, who stayed away from the oath-taking ceremony along with former State Congress president K Muraleedharan, Congress MLAs TN Prathapan and VD Satheesan, Kerala Congress-B’s Minister KB Ganesh Kumar and his father and party chairman R Balakrishna Pillai.

“This portfolio shuffle is just a knick-knack Chandy is playing to satisfy the majority community. But that is not going to serve any purpose,” said G Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of the NSS, the outfit of Hindu Nair community. “My question to Chandy is whether all those belonging to the majority communities should leave Kerala,” he said.

Vellappally Natesan, general secretary of the SNDP, outfit of the influential Hindu Ezhavas, said Chandy had knelt before the Muslim League by giving it a fifth chair in the Cabinet. “In place of democracy, it is the rule of religions in Kerala (under Chandy). The only thing we can do is to feel ashamed of the Congress,” he said.

Congress’s lone Muslim Minister Aryadan Muhammad, who boycotted the oath-taking ceremony, did not mince words when he indicated that Chandy and State Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala had worked against the will of the Pradesh Congress Committee by surrendering to League pressure. “I remain firm in the opinion I expressed at the KPCC meeting,” he said.

Former PCC chief and MLA K Muraleedharan said, “I strongly protest against this. Why did they (Chandy and Chennithala) seek our opinions if all they could do was to bow to League pressure?” he asked. Veteran Congress leader VM Sudheeran demanded an immediate meeting of the KPCC executive to discuss the matter.

The Congress and the UDF are now worried that the present crisis could affect the prospects of the front, which has decided to support Marxist renegade R Selvaraj, in the Neyyattinkara Assembly by-election to be held soon, most likely in May. The NSS and the SNDP have immense influence among the voters of Neyyattinkara.

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