Will Kerala get its ninth berth in union cabinet?

With two cabinet ministers quitting in the wake of scandals, there is likelihood that Kerala, which currently has eight members in the cabinet, could get a ninth one.

There is speculation that Jose K. Mani, first-time Lok Sabha member from Kottayam, and also the son of Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani, could win a berth as a minister of state.

The Kerala Congress-Mani, third-biggest ally in the state government, could count the presence of its member in the union cabinet a feather in its cap. Speaking to IANS, government chief whip and vice chairman of the Kerala Congress-Mani P.C. George said the party, which has two law makers in parliament, deserves a cabinet berth.
"Our party certainly deserves it. We expect that Jose K. Mani will get a call from the Prime Minister's Office," George said.

In all, there are 20 Lok Sabha members from Kerala; 16 of them are from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) which includes two from the Indian Union Muslim League and one from the Kerala Congress-Mani.

In the upper house, of the nine members from the state, five are from the UDF.
The eight union ministers from the state include cabinet ministers A.K. Antony (Defence) and Vayalar Ravi (Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs) and Ministers of State K.V. Thomas (Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution), Mulapally Ramachandran (Home), Sashi Tharoor (HRD), K.C. Venugopal (Civil Aviation) Kodikunnil Suresh (Labour) and E. Ahamed (External Affairs).

The present strength of eight ministers is the biggest ever representation that Kerala has got; if that number rises even more, it could come as a bonus for Mani and his family and also his party, as they have been bargaining hard for it.

There is also speculation that the porfolios of union ministers from the state could change, and that Ahamed, who comes from the IUML, could get independent charge of a ministry.

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