Can Kerala hope for more ministerial berths now?


Thiruvananthapuram : With a sweeping victory by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala – having won 16 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats – all eyes are on how many ministerial berths its MPs will get.

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In the outgoing cabinet of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, there are two Rajya Sabha members from the UDF, A.K. Antony and Vayalar Ravi, and minister of state E. Ahamed is a Lok Sabha member.

In the 2009 polls, the Congress has 13 winners from Kerala. Allies Indian Union Muslim League has two, including Ahamed, and the Kerala Congress (Mani) one. As a result, there may be demands for more ministerial berths for UDF winners, which include a few veterans.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala said the state leadership has virtually no say in matters when it comes to deciding ministers.

“If we are asked, we might just give our preference. Normally these things are the prerogative of the prime minister and the Congress president. Moreover, this time the Congress has more than 200 seats, so it makes all the more tough,” said Chennithala.

Among possible contenders are former UN undersecretary general Shashi Tharoor, who won his debut election from here.

The others who are likely to stake claim are former minister of state Mullapaly Ramachandran who wrested the Vadakara seat from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and also Congress leader Kodikunnil Suresh, who won from the reserved constituency of Mavelikara.

The dark horse among other hopefuls is K.V. Thomas, who as sitting legislator from Ernakulam assembly constituency managed to get the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat.

Veteran Kerala Congress (Mani) supremo K.M. Mani whose son Jose K. Mani wrested the Kottayam seat by beating veteran CPI-M lawmaker Suresh Kurup is also certain to move heaven and earth for a berth for his son.

Yet another person who brought laurels to the Congress party is K. Sudhakaran who won the Kannur seat, considered the bastion of the CPI-M.

This is after all the first time since the 1991 elections that the party is sending 13 winners to the Lok Sabha from Kerala.