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Anguish in Kerala as Pinarayi 2.0 drops KK Shailaja
The most heartbreaking, without doubt, was the decision to leave out K K Shailaja
The infusion of freshers into the new LDF government would have been hailed as a political masterstroke had the CPM leadership shown a little prudence in granting legitimate exemptions and put in place checks to weed out nepotism in the selection of ministers.
The most heartbreaking, without doubt, was the decision to leave out K K Shailaja who, as health minister, had fearlessly led the Covid and Nipah fights from the front and won hearts at the international level not just for her approach but also attitude.
Her victory in the Assembly polls with record majority was an endorsement for that, but more significantly, the good work she did was vital in the Left front retaining power. Social media is abuzz with comments, with a number of celebrities joining the hash tag campaign, #BringBackShailajaTeacher but CPM is unlikely to have a rethink.
The move of the CPI(M) state committee on Tuesday to replace all existing ministers with 10 fresh faces and one senior who had served a term earlier completed the generational shift the party had started with the replacement of all two-time MLAs with new names during the candidate selection. The CPI, which also followed the norm set by the state council in 2016, rightly replaced all four ministers with fresh faces.
In the final count, 17 of the 21 ministers designate are fresh faces. Along with CM Pinarayi Vijayan, JD (S) nominee K Krishnankutty and NCP’s A K Saseendran had served in the 2016 cabinet. CPI(M) leader K Radhakrishnan was a minister in the 1996 E K Nayanar government, besides serving as the Speaker during 2006-11.
However, the charm of the list which had talented leaders such as P Rajeeve and K N Balagopal — who both had proved their parliamentary skills in Rajya Sabha — and three women — a record in the history of state — as ministers was overshadowed by the decision to exclude Shailaja.
Being a central committee member and second only to Pinarayi in terms of seniority in party, Shailaja was supposed to be the No 2 in the new cabinet. Her work as health minister, which won applause globally, was all the more a reason to give an exemption.
CPM state secretariat decided unanimously on uniform scale
On Tuesday, the CPI(M) state secretariat unanimously decided to apply a uniform scale to all and not to exempt anyone. The result was a list of 10 new cabinet members. Radhakrishnan, who is a CC member and a prominent dalit leader of CPI(M) at the national level, was inducted into the cabinet as he was back in parliamentary politics after a gap of 10 years. The inclusion of first-time MLA P A Mohamed Riyas and R Bindu in the list was also a surprise to many CPI(M) workers.
Riyas, who contested to assembly for the first time and won from Beypore, is the husband of Veena T, daughter of Pinarayi. Though the organisational profile of Riyaz — national president of DYFI — is fit enough to find a place in a CPI(M) cabinet, the party leadership will have to answer whether it was a proper act to include him in a cabinet headed by his father-in-law, by ignoring concerns of conflict of interest. Bindu, who had proven her leadership skills as the mayor of Thrissur, also found place in the cabinet at the wrong time as her husband A Vijayaraghavan is the current chief of state CPI(M) and LDF.
While insisting the two-term norm during the candidate selection and single-term norm during the cabinet formation, CPI(M) leaders Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Vijayaragavan had repeatedly said the changes were necessary to avoid a Bengal-like fiasco here. The frequent change in roles will also ensure that new leaders get involved in organisational activities, the proponents of change theory argued.Sources in the CPI(M) said the party would not review the decision and the list of ministers would not be changed.