New Delhi: Stepping into controversy over Ramesh Chennithala`s entry into Oommen Chandy-led UDF Government, senior Congress leader PJ Kurien on Saturday said the KPCC chief should have been made Deputy Chief Minister as it would have helped maintain "communal balance" in the Cabinet.
His remarks came as Congress president Sonia Gandhi turned down Chandy`s proposal to induct a reluctant Chennithala into his government, which is under attack over the solar panel scam.
Chennithala, who has been at the helm of the party in Kerala for the last eight years, had made it clear that he was not keen on joining the government headed by Chandy.
"It would have been beneficial to the UDF government in Kerala, if Ramesh Chennithala was given Home Ministry or Deputy Chief ministership," said Kurien, who is Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman.
Kurien said he has always maintained that induction of a Hindu heavyweight leader like Chennithala with a key portfolio in the Congress-led UDF Government "would help the Congress to adjust the communal balance" in the politically volatile state before the Lok Sabha polls.
Chandy government is dominated by members from minority Christian and Muslim communities.
Party high command is said to be upset with Chandy for failing to manage the two key minority parties in his UDF government - Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Kerala Congress (Mani)- which had expressed reservations over Chennithala`s induction as Deputy Chief Minister.
The two alliance members had often stated that as key partners, they too had a claim to the slot, which is now non-existent.
Kurien also said Chennithala is eligible to become Chief Minister, but said that at present there was no vacancy for the `Number one` slot.
"Ramesh Chennithala is eligible to become number one, but there is no vacancy now," Kurien told reporters reacting to a query.