In the new cabinet, the CPI(M) have 12 ministers, CPI four ministers and one each from Kerala Congress (M), Indian National League, Democratic Kerala Congress, NCP and JD(S), reports Asian Lite News
Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday sworn in as the chief minister of Kerala by Governor Arif Mohammad Khan.
Returning to an unprecedented second term in power, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan unveiled his new team, which jettisons all sitting ministers from his CPI-M, and consists of a mix of youth and experience, besides giving adequate representation to women, caste, communities and religion.
A 21-member Left Democratic Front (LDF) ministry, headed by Pinarayi Vijayan, took oath at the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. At the grand ceremony organised to mark the historic return of an incumbent government after a span of 40 years, attendance was limited to 500 persons in view of the Covid-19 protocols.
“Took the oaths of office and secrecy as Chief Minister of Kerala. Together let us realise a people’s alternative and build a Nava Keralam!” Vijayan tweeted.
In the new cabinet, the CPI(M) have 12 ministers, CPI four ministers and one each from Kerala Congress (M), Indian National League (INL), Democratic Kerala Congress (DKC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Janata Dal (S) (JDS).
MB Rajesh of the CPM is the Speaker and Chittayam Gopakumar of the CPI the Deputy Speaker of the new Assembly. N Jayaraj of KC(M) has been appointed as the chief whip with cabinet rank. 17 out of the 20 ministers in the cabinet are first-timers.
Incidentally in 2016, when Vijayan won his first victory, the stadium was filled with a record 40,000 people, cheering every Minister when their name was called, but this time, it was not to be as the Kerala High Court had directed that there should be no breaking of Covid protocols and the audience should be kept to the barest minimum.
Conspicuous by their absence was the entire Opposition, as outgoing Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday morning called up Vijayan and offered his congratulations and informed him that they are not boycotting the event but had decided to observe the strict Covid protocols as the district is under triple lockdown, and would watch the swearing-in sitting on TV at their homes.
A music video on the second coming of the LDF government compiled by musicians and actors across Kerala was played at the beginning of the ceremony. The musical, involving 52 singers and musicians, was projected on a 140-ft LED screen placed on the dais before the oath-taking ceremony.
The new team has three women — R Bindu, Chinchu Rani and Veena George — one more than last time and a record number for any Kerala government.
CPI’s Veena George will be the first woman journalist-politician to be a Kerala minister. She is expected to get the Health portfolio held by KK Shailaja.
Bindhu, the former Thrissur Mayor, is also CPM State Secretary K Vijayraghavan’s wife, and is expected to get Higher Education. CPM leader PA Mohammad Riyas is likely to get PWD and Tourism.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Congratulations to Shri Pinarayi Vijayanji on taking oath as Chief Minister and commencing his second term in office.” Vijayan was also congratulated by new Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who led his DMK-Congress alliance to a dominant win in the neighbouring state.
“Best wishes to my brother Pinarayi Vijayan on his swearing in as Chief Minister of Kerala and I hope that his determination and perseverance will lead to social equality, peace and prosperity for the people,” he said.
The new Kerala cabinet needs to hit the ground running because the state – praised for its containment of the virus in the first wave – has been badly affected by the second; active cases are over 3.32 lakh (third-worst in the country) and vaccine doses and oxygen supply is a key problem.
The LDF bucked the trends to win the historic second consecutive term – Kerala normally alternates between Left and Congress-led governments – in the April-May election. The alliance won 99 of 140 seats in this election, with the Congress claiming 41 and the BJP failing to open its account.
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