Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan, who has led the LDF to an historic second successive term in Kerala, has a free hand in choosing his cabinet. The CPI-M’s state committee on Tuesday tasked Vijayan with assigning portfolios to minister-designates.
On Wednesday reports emerged that Veena George will likely be the next health and social welfare minister of Kerala. She will replace the well-regarded and hugely popular KK Shailaja, who received national and international accolades for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic but was unable to find a place in the new cabinet. Shailaja will instead be the party’s whip in the next assembly.
Other Likely Names
Ahead of the swearing-in of the next Kerala government on Thursday, a clearer picture is emerging of who will be in the new cabinet.
P Rajeev, former Rajya Sabha member and current MLA from Ernakulam’s Kalamassery, will most likely be allotted the industries portfolio. It will be the first time that Rajeev holds a cabinet rank.
Another ex-member of the Rajya Sabha, KN Balagopal will likely be the finance minister. He will replace the popular TV Thomas Isaac, who did not contest the elections this year due to the party’s decision to not field MLAs who had served two consecutive terms. Balagopal represents Kottarakkara constituency in Kollam.
Pinarayi Vijayan faced flak from certain quarters for giving his son-in-law, PA Muhammad Riyas, a ticket. Now Riyas, who represents Beypore constituency, is likely to get two portfolios: Tourism and public works. Riyas is the national president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India.
MV Govindan will likely be appointed minister of local self government development. He will also head the excise department. Govindan is a central committee member of the CPI-M. He represents Taliparamba constituency.
R Bindu, former Mayor of Thrissur Corporation, is likely to get higher education. Bindu is the wife of CPI-M leader A Vijayaraghavan
Nemom legislator V Sivankutty, who won back BJP’s lone seat in the previous assembly, is likely to be given charge of general education department.
Ahamed Devarkovil of the Indian National League, who won from Kozhikode South, will likely be the minister of ports.
Janata Dal-S MLA K Krishnankutty will get the power ministry. He won from Chittur in Palakkad. Krishnankutty had been the water resources minister in the previous government.
Roshy Augustine, leader of the Kerala Congress (Mani) faction of Jose K Mani, will head the water resources department.