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KK Shailaja, Praised for Covid Control, Among Ministers Dropped from Kerala Cabinet as Vijayan Bets on New Faces

Health Minister K K Shailaja will enter the House with a record majority of over 60,000 votes from Mattannur constituency.

Health Minister K K Shailaja will enter the House with a record majority of over 60,000 votes from Mattannur constituency.

Shailaja, who is also a retired teacher, became popular after doing stellar work in containing the spread of COVID-19 in the initial phase of the pandemic.

Former Health minister KK Shailaja, who earned praise for her handling of the Covid-19 crisis, is not a part of the new state cabinet, which is set to have freshers from CPM and CPI, with CM Pinarayi Vijayan being the only old face.

Shailaja, who is also a retired teacher, became popular after doing stellar work in containing the spread of COVID-19 in the initial phase of the pandemic, in the state of Kerala. She had previously worked on the containment of the Nipah virus as well. Kerala had seen the Nipah virus outbreak twice, in 2018 and 2019. Shailaja has received many praises for her prompt action in tracking, isolation, and containment of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Changing the health minister at a crucial time when the Covid crisis is at its peak has raised many eyebrows. Many have taken to social media to express their displeasure over the exclusion of Shailaja from the cabinet. They added that the role played by her in the historic victory of LDF was huge.

On its part, the CPIM said it’s part of their policy to have a new team and only concession was given to Vijayan.

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J Prabhash, political analyst, said the cabinet should have been a mix of continuity and change. “They opted for complete change. It would have been better to include Shailaja and have a blend of continuity and change."

The second Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala, to be sworn in on May 20, will have a 21-member cabinet, LDF convenor and CPI(M) acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan said here on Monday. The oath-taking ceremony of the new Left government would be a low-key affair with limited invitees in view of the COVID-19 situation, he said here after the crucial state committee meeting of the Left Democratic Front.

He also said the portfolios of the ministers would be decided by the Chief Minister. “As the LDF has received immense support from every section of people during the Assembly elections, we want to form a government which has the representation of all sections that can rise to the expectations of everyone," Vijayaraghavan told reporters.

CPI(M), the largest coalition partner, in LDF would have 12 members in the new cabinet while CPI, the second largest party, would have 4 nominees while Kerala Congress (M), Janata Dal (S) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would have one representative each, he said.

As there are restrictions to accommodate more than 21 members in the cabinet, the LDF decided to share the ministerial berths to four of its allies, having a single MLA, on a term basis, he said.

The other ministers from CPIM are MV Govindan, K Radhakrishnan, KN Balagopal, P Rajeev, VN Vasavan, Saji Cherian, V Shivankutty, Mohammed Riyas, Dr R Bindhu, Veena George and V Abdul Rahman. MB Rajesh is nominated as the speaker. TP Ramakrishnan who was a minister in the previous cabinet will be the parliamentary secretary .

The LDF has retained power in Kerala by winning 99 seats, beating its rivals-Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF) and BJP-NDA. While UDF could manage only 41 seats, the saffron front failed to win any seat in the polls.

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first published:May 18, 2021, 13:37 IST