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Cong gives berth to mollify Muslim League

Author: VR Jayaraj
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 12, 2012
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/nation/56932-cong-gives-berth-to-mollify-muslim-league.html

Kerala’s Congress-led ruling UDF on Wednesday settled a vexed dispute that had been dogging it for the past several months by agreeing to give a fifth Cabinet berth to Muslim League, second largest front constituent, and to make Kerala Congress’s Anoop Jacob, who was elected MLA in a recent by-poll, leading to complaints of upsetting community balance in the Government.

With this, minority communities constituting 44 percent of the State’s population will have 12 Ministers in the 21-member Cabinet while the strength of those from the majority community constituting 56 percent would remain nine. Muslims constitute 25 percent of the population while 19 percent are Christians.

“If complaints about injustices with regard to community balance come up, we will surely examine them,” said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, also chairman of the UDF, while briefing the media on the decisions taken at a crucial UDF meeting at Thiruvananthapuram late Wednesday evening.

NSS, outfit of Hindu Nair community, said the decision had upset balance of communities in the State administration. “Should the majority community leave the country?” asked NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair. The NSS is known as a community outfit supporting the Congress party and UDF.

Apart from the 12 Ministers representing the minority communities, the Government has PC George of the Kerala Congress (M) as its Chief Whip. Muslim League’s Manjalamkuzhy Ali, a former Independent MLA of the CPI(M)-led LDF, and Anoop Jacob of the Kerala Congress (J) would be sworn in as Ministers at 10.00 am Thursday, Chandy said.

The UDF also decided to allocate one of the two Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant soon to Finance and Law Minister KM Mani’s Kerala Congress (M), known as a pro-Christian party. The other seat would be taken by the Congress, Chandy said. The Kerala Congress (M) has two Ministers, apart from the Chief Whip, in the Chandy Cabinet.

The Chief Minister said that the Ali would not be given any new portfolio other than what the Muslim League’s four Ministers already held. “They will re-arrange the portfolios among the five Ministers now,” he said.
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