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It's 'Hobson's Choice' for High Command

A premium has been put on the group rivalry bedeviling the Kerala unit of the Congress. That has been the unpleasant upshot of the talks between Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala to resolve the crisis over the latter’s entry into the State Cabinet.

With both sides refusing to budge from their respective positions, the ball has, again, been tossed back into the court of the Congress high command. While the Ramesh camp cays the KPCC chief won’t join the cabinet unless he is given the Home portfolio, Chandy has expressed his inability to oblige Chennithala on the issue.

This being the ground reality, it will not be easy for the high command to come up with a solution  acceptable to both the  camps. Senior Congress leader and Union Defence Minister A K Antony has intervened in the matter in an effort to hammer out a solution. But his efforts to craft  a compromise formula have not born fruit so far with Chandy and Ramesh hardening their stands.

Now that the ball is back in the high command’s court, a close look at the options before it is in order.
The best option, under the circumstances, seems to be to ask the rival camps to maintain status quo, at least until after the Lok Sabha  elections due next year. That  would mean Chennithala staying as the KPCC chief at least until  the Lok Sabha elections, giving up his efforts to join the state cabinet.
Another option is to concede his demand that he be given the Home portfolio. But such a denouement will, in all probability, displease the A camp headed by chief minister Oommen Chandy. 

If the high command insists upon this course of action, the Chandy camp would, of course,  accept it grudgingly. But the result would be a further surge in the group rivalry, with disastrous results in the LS polls. 

Moreover, the high command is in no position to alienate the A group now as the latter has proved its strength in the Youth Congress organizational elections by defeating the Ramesh-led Vishala I group in a convincing manner. Taking over the Home portfolio by the Chief Minister himself is yet another option. But this is unlikely to satisfy the supporter of Chennithala who do not want him to join the cabinet minus Home. It is a Hobson’s choice for the high command. IPA

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