Thiruvananthapuram: It has not been smooth sailing into
power for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, 67. The ruling
United Democratic Front's (UDF) poll majority is wafer thin, only
one more than the required minimum.
Usually, after every assembly election in the state, the ruling
front - either the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) or the Congress led UDF -
always get booted out by a huge margin.
That did not happen this time. The winner's majority is the
thinnest in Kerala's electoral history.
The results of the April 13 assembly polls announced on May 13
sent shockwaves in the UDF camp. It just about managed to get 72
seats in the 140-member assembly while the LDF won 68.
In the final count, the Congress won 38 seats, Indian Union Muslim
League (IUML) 20, Kerala Congress (Mani) four, Socialist Janata
Democratic Party two, Kerala Congress (Jacob), RSP (B) and Kerala
Congress (Pillai) one each.
And on the opposition side, never before has the Kerala assembly
seen such a composition of stalwarts, mostly from the CPI-M and
they will be breathing down Chandy's neck when the assembly
Former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who is now the leader of
the opposition, and his high flying colleagues like Kodiyeri
Balakrishnan, M.A. Baby, Thomas Issac, A.K. Balan, P.K. Gurudasan,
G. Sudhakaran and Elamaram Kareem will be on the opposition
The first acid test of selecting Chandy's cabinet does not appear
to have gone very well. Several feathers have been ruffled within
the Congress as well as among allies.
After hours of talks, discussions and debates Chandy has managed
to get nine of his party colleagues into his cabinet.
Those who could not make it from the list includes state Congress
president Ramesh Chennithala, V.D. Sateeshan and K. Muraleedharan.
Those who were left out includes former ministers G. Karthikeyan
and Sakthan Nadar.
Chandy's biggest headache would be six-time legislator P.C. George
of the Kerala Congress (Mani), who was hoping against hope that
this time he would be a minister for the first time.
But it has not happened yet and it is certain that George would be
giving sleepless nights not only to the chief minister but also to
his precariously positioned government.
Another issue that Chandy could be facing is K.M. Mani handling
the powerful finance portfolio. Frequent tiffs between the diehard
strongman of the Kerala Congress (M) and other allies could be a
The first show of strength between the rival fronts is likely to
be over the election of the assembly speaker.
It could be a tough ask for Chandy and also the speaker to see
that not a single ruling front legislator goes absent from the
proceedings on the floor of the house because that could be
trouble with the government's wafer-thin majority.
Chandy, known for taking a tough and uncompromising stand when
needed, will have to bring out all his experience of 40 years as a
legislator to see that his boat sails smooth.
All the while the opposition Left Front will be waiting to rock
the boat at every given opportunity.
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