Respect popular sentiment on dropping Shailaja but it’s final: Pinarayi Vijayan

ByRaamesh Babu
May 19, 2021 10:44 PM IST

Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan, who is slated to start his second straight term as chief minister on Thursday, responded to criticism over dropping health minister KK Shailaja and insisted that it wasn’t his decision but a collective decision of the party

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday justified the party’s decision to drop all ministers of the outgoing government and said he respected the popular sentiment over health minister KK Shailaja’s exclusion from his next cabinet but it was a well-thought out call and there was no plan to dilute it.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who will begin his second straight term on Thursday, said the decision to replace the council of ministers with fresh faces was a collective decision of the party
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who will begin his second straight term on Thursday, said the decision to replace the council of ministers with fresh faces was a collective decision of the party

There were loud protests after KK Shailaja, the face of the state’s fight against the pandemic was dropped from the new cabinet. The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) said she couldn’t be an exception since all ministers of the outgoing ministry were dropped to make way for new faces. Party policies were important, not individuals, it said.

Many left camp followers, cine artists, writers and students have vented their anger at the government on social media, criticising the decision to drop KK Shailaja. Shailaja has also pleaded with her supporters not to get emotional over the decision and asked them to respect the party’s stand. “We stick to our decision. Once the party takes a decision it will be implemented,” said acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan.

The high-profile health minister will be replaced by journalist-turned-politician Veena George, 44, according to the portfolios announced on Wednesday.

“We respect their sentiments (over dropping KK Shailaja). But the party has taken a decision much earlier to induct new faces. It can’t give exemptions to some. It was a collective decision. All ministers of the outgoing government worked well and it reflected in the election also,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.

To a question whether Shailaja should have been exempted from this decision, he said there were many other ministers in the outgoing council of ministers who also deserved similar exemptions but the party took a firm decision on this.

“You may ask why the chief minister got an exemption then. It was also the decision of the party. In the party, there is no room for individual decisions; it is a collective one. Many are interpreting that I was behind the move but it is not right,” he said, adding the ongoing fight against pandemic will not be weakened by change in the ministry.

“Our fight against pandemic is a collective one. It will continue with renewed vigour,” he said.

Pinarayi Vijayan’s oath event to be held in state capital Thiruvananthapuram’s stadium on Thursday has also turned into a bit of opposition since the government relaxed the Covid-19 protocol that bars gatherings of more than 50 people.

Kerala reported 32,763 cases after testing 1.40,545 persons with a test positivity rate of 23.3%. It also reported 112 deaths on Wednesday, the highest since the outbreak, taking the total fatalities in the state to 6724. Kerala has an active caseload of 3,31,860. The chief minister said there is a significant drop in the cases after a triple lockdown in four districts and a normal shutdown in the rest of the state.

Pinarayi Vijayan, who announced portfolios of his new cabinet which will take oath on Thursday, has allocated the tourism and public works department for his son-in-law PA Mohammad Riyas. Much like his victory in the assembly elections - he is the first Kerala chief minister to get a second straight term in 40 years - Pinarayi Vijayan’s decision to induct his son-in-law in his cabinet is also a first in Kerala.

PA Mohammad Riyas was the president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the party’s youth wing and was elected to the assembly from Beypore constituency in Kozhikode.

Former member of the Rajya Sabha KN Balagopal is the new finance minister, succeeding Dr Thomas Isaac, an economist. Hailing from Kollam district, KN Balagopal has been in the party for more than three decades. Another former RS member, P Rajeev will be the new industry minister. Prof R Bindhu, acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan’s wife, is the higher education minister.

The other ministers are MV Govindan, (excise and local self-government), K Radhakrishnan (devaswom), V Sivankutty (labour and education), VN Vasavan (co-operation), K Krishnankutty (power), Antony Raju (transport), AK Saseendran (forest), Roshi Augustin (water affairs), Ahmad Deverkoil (ports), Saji Cherian (fisheries), V Abdul Rehman (minority affairs), Chinju Rani (animal husbandry), K Rajan (revenue), P Prasad (agriculture) and J R Anil (civil supplies).

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