Small allies told to share Cabinet posts

Crucial LDF meeting tomorrow, CPI(M) to have 12 Ministers and CPI four

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] on Sunday reportedly prodded four minor Left Democratic Front (LDF) allies with not more than one seat in the next Assembly to share a maximum of two Cabinet berths between themselves.

The details of the close door talks were sketchy. Nevertheless, party persons privy to the negotiations said the CPI(M) had persuaded Indian National League (INL), Congress (S), Kerala Congress (B) and Democratic Kerala Congress (DKC) to hold a Cabinet rank for two-and-a-half years and concede the remaining term to another single-member ally.

It was unclear whether LJD with a single MLA would get a Cabinet post. The party might have to settle for a board or corporation. The LDF is scheduled to hold a crucial meeting to finalise government formation on Monday. It has asked allies to make up their minds on Cabinet formation.

There were unconfirmed reports that the CPI(M) would take 12 Cabinet seats, including the Chief Minister.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) might settle for four Cabinet posts and the chair of the Deputy Speaker. Kerala Congress (M) was likely to bag a Cabinet post and the office of the Chief Whip. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Janata Dal (JD) might get one Cabinet post each.

The minor allies were reportedly disappointed with the CPI(M) move. DKC legislator Antony Raju and KC(B) MLA K.B. Ganesh Kumar reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘decision.’

Mr. Ganesh was a four-time MLA who had served in the Oommen Chandy government as Minister. Mr. Raju was arguably the mainstay of the LDF in coastal Thiruvananthapuram in the Assembly polls. Both leaders had told the CPI(M) that they could achieve little as Ministers if the LDF restricted their respective terms to two-and-a-half years.

Congress (S) MLA Kadannappally Ramachandran and INL legislator Ahamad Devarkovil were yet to articulate their position. By some accounts, the leaders might agree to the CPI(M) proposal. Mr. Ramachandran is currently the Ports Minister.

The CPI(M) had earlier proposed that the LJD merge with the Janata Dal (S), which has two legislators. However, the socialist parties seemed unable to settle their differences at the national level.

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