A 20-member cabinet with Pinarayi Vijayan as the chief minister took oath in Kerala on Thursday (May 20), 18 days after the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front returned to power in the state for a historic second successive term in the April-May election.
Vijayan, 76, was sworn in by Governor Arif Mohammad Khan in a brief ceremony conducted in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. The ceremony was allowed after the Kerala High Court gave its permission on Wednesday (May 19).
The 20 members of the Vijayan team who also took oath were: K Rajan, Roshy Augustine, K Krishnan Kutty, AK Saseendran, Ahmed Devarkovil, Antony Raju, V Abdurahman, G R Anil, K N Balagopal, R Bindu, J Chinchu Rani, MV Govindan, P A Mohammed Riyas, P Prasad, K Radhakrishnan, P Rajeev, Saji Cheriyan, V Sivankutty, VN Vasavan and Veena George.
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“Took the oath of office and secrecy as Chief Minister of Kerala. Together let us realise a people’s alternative and build a Nava Keralam!” Vijayan tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Vijayan in a tweet. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who led his DMK-Congress alliance to victory in the neighbouring state, also greeted Vijayan. “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.
Media reports said Vijayan’s all-new 20-member cabinet includes 12 from the CPI-M and four from the CPI. The new team has three women – Dr R Bindu, Chinchu Rani and Veena George, one more than the last time.
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CPM’s Veena George will be the first woman journalist-politician to be a minister in the state. She is set to get health portfolio earlier held by KK Shailaja.
Dr Bindhu, the former Thrissur mayor, is also CPI-M state secretary K Vijayraghavan’s wife, and is likely to get higher education.
CPI-M leader PA Mohammad Riyas, who is Vijayan’s son-in-law, is likely to get PWD and tourism.
Most of the new cabinet members are first-time ministers. The changes, described by Vijayan as a party decision, include the dropping of KK Shailaja.
“It was the party’s decision not to include anyone for two consecutive terms as ministers. It was based on this policy that KK Shailaja was not included in the new cabinet,” Vijayan said.