Kerala’s new chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn in on Wednesday, ushering in a new term for the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Pinarayi will lead a 19-member cabinet, including himself. His ministers were also sworn in by governor P Sathasivam at the central stadium in Thiruvanathapuram.
The cabinet has 12 first-time ministers, eight of who are from the CPI(M). Of the remaining seven, four are from the CPI and three from allies Congress (Socialist), Nationalist Congress Party and Janata Dal (Secular).
The LDF won a resounding victory on the May 16 assembly election, picking up 91 seats against the outgoing Congress-led United Democratic Front’s 47 in the 140-member House.
A look at some of Pinarayi’s notable cabinet picks.
Thomas Issac, finance minister
An academician and economist, Issac is known as a politician with innovative ideas. He was also finance minister in Achuthanandan’s cabinet in 2006-2011. However, much like politburo member MA Baby, he was groomed by the veteran but later fell out with him. Issac rose from student politics as one of the architects of the people’s planning campaign in Kerala. The four-time legislator is also credited with many innovative ideas, including aerobic waste disposal units and organic farming.
E P Jayarajan, industries minister
A strong defender of party in Kannur, Jayarajan is known for his fiery speeches. A staunch follower of Pinarayi, he was the president of Democratic Youth Federation of India when it was formed in 1980. He received a bullet injury to his neck in 1995 when he was returning from a party meet in Vijayawada. CPM workers later killed the main accused in the attack, an RSS activist. A good organiser, he’s also the managing director of party mouthpiece, Desabhimani.
A K Balan, social welfare and SC/ST
A soft-spoken Balan was Pinarayi’s classmate when at Government Brennen College in Thalasserry. A four-time MLA, he was the power minister in Achuthanandan’s cabinet. A lawyer by profession, he is credited with many reforms in the power sector. Balan fought for the Athirapally power project and often clashed with then union environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, over it.
Shylaja Teacher, health
An activist, Teacher is known for her stand to uphold women rights. She became active in politics after giving up her profession as a teacher. A post-graduate, she’s presently secretary of the All India Democratic Women Association. In the just-concluded election, she defeated former agriculture minister KP Mohanan from the Kuthuparambha constituency in Kannur. Her husband is the Mattanur municipality chairman.
G Sudhakaran, public works
Party strongman from Alapuzha, Sudhakaran is admired for his administrative skills and controlling corruption in the co-operation department during his previous stint. He has however drawn flak from several quarters for his acerbic tongue and his penchant for breaking into poetry to lampoon his opponents.