Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan tries to balance coalition equation in his 19-member cabinet

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has tried to balance the coalition equation while allocating portfolios to his 19 cabinet colleagues.

TK Devasia May 26, 2016 10:44:36 IST
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan tries to balance coalition equation in his 19-member cabinet

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has tried to balance the coalition equation while allocating portfolios to his 19 cabinet colleagues.

Pinarayi and his 19-member cabinet colleagues were sworn in by Governor P Sathasivam at a function held in the Central Stadium in the state capital on Wednesday evening. The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) stormed to power by winning 91 of the 140 seats in the Assembly.

Though the CPI(M) has won 58 of the 84 seats it had contested in the 16 May election, the Chief Minister has not tried to take away any of the portfolios traditionally held by the coalition partners. They were apportioned among four allies, which have been given representation in the ministry.

While the Communist Party of India (CPI), the second largest constituent of the ruling front, continues to hold sway over Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Food and Civil Supplies, the Janata Dal nominee has been given Water Resources, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Transport and Congress (S), Ports.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan tries to balance coalition equation in his 19member cabinet

Kerala Governor Justice (retd) P Sathasivam greeting newly sworn-in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

Of these only Mathew T Thomas (Water Resources) and Ramachandran Kadannapally (Ports) have served as ministers earlier. E Chandrashekharan, V S Sunil Kumar, K Raju, P Thilothaman and A K Saseendran, who have been given the portfolios of Revenue, Agriculture, Forest, Food and Civil Supplies and Transport respectively, are yet to prove their administrative capabilities.

However, Pinarayi has given merit the main consideration in allocating the portfolios to his colleagues in the CPI(M). While he himself has taken control of the key portfolios of Home, Vigilance and IT, he has entrusted the Finance portfolio with T M Thomas Isaac. Issac had proved his mettle as finance minister in the previous LDF government headed by V S Achuthanandan.

Here are brief profiles of the ministers:

Thomas Isaac (Finance)

Considered as one of the most educated politicians in Kerala today, Isaac is the economic brain of the CPI (M). Though he was drawn into politics from college days, he completed his post graduation, M Phil and Ph D in Economics even while actively pursuing politics. Isaac, who had served as state president of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI (M), is known for his innovative ideas. He is the main architect of the decentralisation movement that brought laurels to Kerala. It evolved from the People’s Plan campaign he initiated as a member of the State Planning Board from 1996 to 2001 under Nayanar government. Isaac had tried to tap many non-conventional sources, including Islamic finance, for powering the state economy during his term as finance minister under the 2006-11 LDF government led by V S Achuthanandan.

E P Jayarajan (Industries)

A firebrand leader of the CPI (M) from Kannur district, Jayarajan has been picked up to head the key portfolio of industry considering his close connections with corporates. He had tapped the corporate funds for rejuvenating the party’s mouthpiece Deshabhimani and giving its electronic media a strong footing in the state. His attempts to raise funds from corporates whom the party considered untouchable had kicked off controversy in the state but Jayarajan remained undeterred. Born on May 28, 1950, is known for his fiery speeches and unflinching loyalty to Pinarayi. He had served as the state president of Democratic Youth Federation of India when it was formed in 1980.

Prof. C Raveendranath (Education)

The opening up of professional education to the private sector has led to big unrest in the education sector in Kerala. The CPM that waged many battles against commercialisation of education needed a strong man to lead a course correction. Pinarayi has found the apt man in Raveendranath, who is a leading educationist and a strong advocate of sustainable development. A retired chemistry professor of St. Thomas College, Thrissur, he has proved his capability by leading a movement to turn all government and aided schools in his Puthukkad constituency in Thrissur district into hi-tech schools. The LDF expects him to carry forward this and do more to regain the glory that education enjoyed in the past.

T P Ramakrishnan (Excise, Labour and Registration)

All eyes in Kerala will be on 67-year-old Ramakrishnan as he has the onerous task of “setting right” the flawed liquor policy of the previous government. The CPI (M) has entrusted the task with him as he has displayed his leadership skills. He had led the party in Kozhikode district during its most trying times. Son of a committed party worker Thazhathuparambil Shankaran of Keezhariyoor, he lived amid party men from his childhood. Arrested during the Emergency, he had also suffered brutal torture in prison. He became the district committee member in 1979 and was elected to the assembly in 2001.

A C Moideen (Cooperation and Tourism)

He is joining the ministry after building a solid base for the party in Thrissur as district secretary. Moideen’s efforts helped CPI (M) to win both the Lok Sabha seats in the district in the 2014 election and sweep all but one Assembly seat in the May 16 election. Moideen (60), who has completed SSLC, came to limelight after he emerged as a giant killer in the 2004 elections by defeating the then power minister K Muralidharan, son of Congress veteran K Karunakaran.

G Sudhakaran (Public Works)

CPI(M) strongman from Alapuzha, Sudhakaran (69) is known for the strong stand he had taken against corruption during his term as minister for Co-operation and Devaswom under the Achuthanandan government. He is also admired for his administrative skills. The chief minister’s decision to give him the Public Works portfolio is considered a strong signal against officials-contractors nexus that rules the roost in the department. However, his acerbic tongue has often alienated officials from him.

A K Balan (Law, Culture and Backward castes welfare)

Soft spoken, Balan was Minister for Electricity and SC/ST Development in the last LDF government. He made his first stint memorable by becoming first electricity minister in the country to achieve 100 percent electrification of a district. His focused effort led to declaration of Palakkad as the fully electrified district in India in 2010. During his term, Kerala also won the National Award for Energy Conservation. Balan, who is the face of the backward castes and classes in the CPI (M), represents the Tarur constituency in Palakkad district. As a classmate of Pinarayi at Brennen College, Thalassery, he went for LL.B after passing out of the college with a degree.

Shylaja Teacher (Health)

One of the firebrand women leaders of the CPI (M), K K Shylaja, popularly known as Shyala Teacher, is known for her the defender of women’s rights. She was noted for her stand in protecting the rights of women in the Assembly during her two tenures as MLA. She was elected to the Assembly in 1996 and 2006. She became active in politics after giving up her profession as a teacher. A post-graduate, 60-year-old Shylaja is presently secretary of the All India Democratic Women Association. \

Mercykutty Amma (Fisheries and Traditional Industries)

Considered as a staunch supporter of Achuthanandan, Mercykutty Amma (59) is a trade union leader, who has dedicated decades of her life for the betterment of the fishermen and workers engaged in the traditional industries. Hailing from coastal Kollam district, Mercykutty Amma had served as district secretary of Matsya Thozhilali Union for long. Like most others, she began her political career through the student movement. She had served as state vice- president and member of the central executive committee of SFI. At present, she serves as the national vice-president of the organisation and state committee member of the CPI (M). She is the only representative of the faction headed by the nonagenarian leader.

Kadkampally Surendran (Electricity and Devaswom)

A prominent face of the CPI (M) in the capital district of Thiruvananthapuram, Surendran has made it to the Assembly after two successive defeats in 2001 and 2006. His elevation and the key portfolios assigned to him are considered as a reward for the battles he fought for the party. Forty-five criminal cases the 63-year-old leader faces is a testimony of the leading role he played in the political agitations waged by the CPI (M) in the district.
Surendran, who did his degree at the University College, Thiruvananthapuram, was active in student movements and cultural activities from his school days. He has been serving as district secretary of the party from 2007 onwards.

K T Jaleel (Local Self-Government)

The only non-party member in the ministry, Jaleel is the second most educated minister in the Pinarayi cabinet after Thomas Isaac. After completing his post graduation, Jaleel secured M.Phil from Calicut University and Ph.D from Kerala University. His elevation in his third term is a reward for helping the CPI(M) in making inroads into the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) vote bank. He began his journey into the parliamentary politics by defeating IUML strongman P K Kunhalikutty in the party’s stronghold in Malappuram district in 2006 as a CPI(M) independent. Once a firebrand Youth League leader, Jaleel attracted a larger section of youth to the Left fold with his oratory skills.

V S Sunil Kumar (Agriculture)

A lawyer by profession, Sunil Kumar is one of the most vocal parliamentarians of the Communist Party of India (CPI). He had put the UDF on the tenterhooks by actively pursuing the allegations of corruption and sleaze against their ministers and other senior leaders both in the field and in the courts. He had made a major role in shaping the bar bribery and solar scams that rocked the UDF government into the major poll planks of the LDF. Born on 30 May, 1967, he entered politics through the All India Students Federation, the student wing of the CPI.

E Chandrashekharan (Revenue)

He emerged as one of the top leaders of the CPI in the northern district of Kannur after he led the party’s agitations for formation of Kasargod district. The 66-year-old leader, who will also hold the role of leader of the CPI Parliamentary party in the Assembly, is known for his clean image and leadership skills. A member of the CPI state executive, he won from Kanhangad for the second consecutive term by over 28,000 votes. In 2011, his margin was 12,178 votes.

K Raju (Forest)

Beginning his political career as a student activist of the CPI, Raju won the election from Punalur constituency in Kollam district for the third time. Raju, who did his graduation in political science from St' Johns College Anchal and Law from Government Law College, has been practising lawyer for the past 35 years. Raju, who has held various positions in the party, is currently the state council member of the party.

P Thilothaman (Food and Civil Supplies)

The face of the CPI in Alappuzha district, Thilothaman is considered as a cool and easily accessible leader. The 58-year-old, who started political and social activities from college days, was party’s district secretary and state council member. A leader with a clean image, he is representing Cherthala, which has elected veterans like A K Antony and Vayalar Ravi, for the third term. He emerged a giant killer in 2011 when he defeated former firebrand CPI(M) leader K R Gowriamma.

Mathew T Thomas (Water Resources)

Drawn into politics through the JP movement, 54-year-old Mathew was in the forefront of many student agitations in the state and got arrested several times. Born in Tiruvalla as the son of Rev. T. Thomas, a priest of the Mar Thoma Church, he went for LL.B after completing his B.Sc. degree. He had proved his leadership skills by helping the state-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) tide over one of the worst financial crisis during his term as Transport Minister in the 2006-11 Achuthanandan government. Many of the reforms he initiated then were continued by the UDF government. Mathew is currently the state president of Janata Dal (Secular).

A K Saseendran (Transport)

Top leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Kerala, 71-year-old Saseendran entered politics through the student movement as leader of the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student wing of the Indian National Congress. He had served as general secretary of KSU and president of the Youth Congress from 1977 to 1978. Saseendran was elected to the Assembly in 1980, 1982 and 2006. Married to Anitha Krishnan N T, the couple has a son.

Kadannappalli Ramachandran (Ports)

Like Saseendran, Ramachandran began his political career through KSU and remained firmly in the Congress (S) when his colleagues returned to the Congress fold. He is the lone member of the party in the Assembly. Born on 1 July 1944, he is the state president of the party. Ramachandran was noted after he defeated CPI (M) veteran E K Nayanar in the 1971 Lok Sabha election at Kasargod at the young age of 26. A law graduate, he had served as Minister for Devaswom.

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