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Congress top leaders to decide on Ramesh Chennithala's entry into Kerala government

New Delhi The Congress top leadership will take a decision tomorrow on the issue of Kerala party chief Ramesh Chennithala's entry into the state cabinet at a time when the Oommen Chandy government is facing opposition flak over the solar panel scam.

Party sources said Mr Chennithala is reluctant to join the government headed by Mr Chandy whose office is under cloud over the scandal. He is expected to convey his position to Congress President Sonia Gandhi tomorrow.

They said Mr Chandy wants Mr Chennithala's entry into his Cabinet as he and the group supporting him believe that it would give a breather to Congress-led UDF which is under fire from opposition CPI(M)-led LDF over the scam.

The Chief Minister is learnt to have even offered him the key Home portfolio.

Mr Chandy was not willing to give Mr Chennithala the portfolio being held by his confidant Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan when the issue of the PCC chief's entry into the Cabinet was debated in the party before the scam came to light.

It was one of the demands put forward by Mr Chennithala and the "I group" supporting him for his entry into the government.

Meanwhile, Congress' alliance partners including Muslim League and Kerala Congress (M) also want Mr Chennithala's induction into the ministry. They believe such a move would help the government.

During his meeting yesterday with Mr Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmed Patel, senior party leader AK Antony and AICC General Secretary (in-charge Kerala) Mukul Wasnik, Mr Chennithala is learnt to have expressed unwillingness to join the crisis-hit government.

He, however, will abide by whatever direction Mr Gandhi gives, sources close to Mr Chennithala said.

State Congress leaders supporting Mr Chennithala are also not in favour of his entry into the Cabinet at this juncture.

Meanwhile, Mr Chandy will reach here tonight to seek a solution to the political situation arising out of the scam. Both Mr Chandy and Mr Chennithala would meet Mr Gandhi.

A final decision on Mr Chennithala's entry into the ministry is expected to be taken in the meeting, sources said.

There has been unease in the state Congress and UDF over the scam as they feel it will hurt the party's prospects in coming Lok Sabha polls.

The solar panel scam pertains to financial cheating of large number of people by scam accused Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan. It took a serious political turn after the arrest of a personal aide of Mr Chandy for his alleged links with the fraudsters.

Two other personal staff members of Mr Chandy were removed and state Public Relations Director A Firoz was arrested in a related case.
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