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“No one questions Pinarayi” ; Why a minister who toiled during Nipah & COVID-19 pandemic have no place in the cabinet?

On May 18, the CPI(M) state committee gathered to choose which 12 MLAs from the party would become ministers, and it was foreseen that a few of the ministers from Pinarayi’s initial cabinet would not get a place in the new one. But, the awaited people received an unexpected announcement, KK Shailaja, the famous face of the Kerala government, a minister recognized for her commendable action during the Nipah virus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic got no seat in the cabinet.

The party’s formal statement was “No old-timers will be repeated”. This means former ministers like KK Shailaka, MM Mani, AC Moideen, and TP Ramakrishnan will not get into the cabinet. A few members at the party said that giving KK Shailaja an exclusion would not be good for the party. Consequently, 12 new faces were picked to become ministers, including first-time MLAs like Mohammed Riyas (Pinarayi’s son-in-law) and R Bindu. The decision has directed too much resentment and disappointment. Though Pinarayi Vijayan was the face of the LDF’s campaign, much of their focus was on how Kerala survived when Nipah and COVID-19 outbreaks occurred. KK Shailaja won with a landslide victory is evidence of her acclaim. The party’s statement that old faces will not be returned has not justified with many who are asking why can’t a minister be repeated if the Chief Minister continues the same.

Shortly after the party’s judgment was declared, a flurry of responses arose. Unsurprisingly, CPI(M) and its associates were firm in their backing of the decision. Though national leaders of the CPI(M) are reported to be unhappy with the choice, the feedback from most leaders including Brinda Karat has been calm, insisting that the state committee should justify the judgment. But with the party decimated in West Bengal, the national leadership is possibly not in a condition to question Pinarayi.

The state committee conference went on for merely two hours, intimating that Pinarayi’s decision was received without any opposition. This isn’t the first time that Pinarayi has taken in such dictates. Before elections, he said that those MLAs who have battled and won twice will not be provided a ticket for the third term. This is the reason why former ministers like Thomas Isaac did not dispute this time. The latest ‘rule’ is that no ministers will be repeated. Sources in the party say in the state committee a few people did question whether it would be reasonable to exclude KK Shailaja, but there was no adversary when they were told that the rule would affect all. Other sources told that the rule was brought in to exclude Shailaja whose reputation is increasing.

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Many CPI(M) leaders told the media that the party’s judgment was also a sort of affirmation that the party is supreme and the success in the elections was for the government’s administration and not an individual’s. The party appears to have, though, not taken into the record the emotions of lakhs of people who believed in not just Pinarayi’s, but Shailaja’s leadership skills too.




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