Chennithala joins Kerala cabinet; gets Home

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday joined the United Democratic Front (UDF) government in the state as minister for home and vigilance, in what has been seen as a move to end the factional feud within the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, the incumbent home minister, has been moved to the ministry of forests, environment and transport.

An MLA from Haripad, Chennithala (57) is taking charge as a minister for the second time in his legislative career that started nearly three decades ago. The three-time MLA and four-time MP has been the state Congress chief since 2005.

Though state Congress leadership has been terming Chennithala’s entry as  minor cabinet adjustment, the move seems to be an attempt to give the Congress a facelift and boost its prospects ahead of the elections following a series of controversies and almost continual infighting.

The increasing clamour for Chennithala’s entry came from a section of the Congress leadership that was unhappy with Radhakrishnan’s tenure as home minister, which had come at the most turbulent times as a series of scandals rocked the government.

Last year, Chennithala’s induction to the cabinet had been dropped twice despite advance level talks, prompting a miffed PCC chief to state that he would focus on building the party and would never run after ministerial positions.

His change of heart has come after assurance of a prominent portfolio and backing of the Congress high command.

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