A leader of Kerala Congress (Mani), a junior ally in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), on Wednesday demanded that party leader K M Mani should be made the chief minister.
Kerala Congress (M) is a regional Christian party in Kerala with tangible presence in Kottayam and Idukki districts. Its chairman Mani is the finance minister in the government led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. The demand from Kerala Congress (M) leader Antony Raju came amidst strong indications that Chandy is going for a cabinet reshuffle.
Senior KC (M) leader Raju said Mani has every right to become the chief minister. In a coalition government, it is not necessary that the leader of the same party should be made the chief minister. “If the cabinet is looking for a facelift through the reshuffle, Mani should be made the chief minister. Mani, one of the senior most politicians in the UDF, has every right to become the chief minister,” he said.
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Raju’s views were echoed by another Kerala Congress heavyweight and government chief whip P C George. “Nobody can deny the right of Mani to become the chief minister,” said George.
Although Raju said he was airing his personal opinion, it is not a secret that Mani harbours an intention to become Kerala Chief Minister. Earlier, there had been reports that CPI (M) would topple the Congress government after weaning away Mani from the UDF. In the 75-strong ruling coalition, Mani’s Christian party has only nine members.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chandy would leave for Delhi tonight. Chandy said he was on a Delhi trip to visit various ministers and the issue of cabinet reshuffle is not an agenda of the journey. A decision on the cabinet rejig would be taken only after discussions with party state chief V M Sudheeran, who is currently on a foreign tour.
Last week, senior party leader G Karthikeyan had said he wanted to quit and return to active politics. Karthikeyan’s move had construed as his intention to join the cabinet. This was followed by Chand rushing to Hindu Nair leader G Sukumaran Nair to reportedly to take his view on the Nair minister to be dropped from the cabinet. Karthikeyan is also a Nair.