The newly-elected Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan has brought in several new faces as part of his new cabinet. While the absence of women stalwarts like KK Shailaja (also known as Shailaja Teacher) who played a leading role in the fight against coronavirus is sorely missed, the fresh brigade of women ministers, including Prof R Bindu, Chinchu Rani and Veena George hold a lot of promise.
The induction of three women ministers into the new cabinet is a welcome move, and marks the highest women representation in a State Cabinet in recent times.
The chief minister will be assisted by a 21-member cabinet, out of which the CPI(M) will have 12 ministerial berths, CPI will have four and Kerala Congress (M), Janata Dal (S) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will have one each.
"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.
Let’s take a look at the new ministers, who are a part of Vijayan’s Cabinet 2.0:
Prof R Bindu
The former mayor of Thrissur, Prof Bindu is the wife of the convenor of the current Left Democratic Front, and former Member of Parliament (MP), A Vijayaraghavan. A PhD degree holder in English literature from Calicut University, she is one of the most qualified ministers in the current assembly. Bindu was also a professor of English literature at Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, before making her foray into politics.
A veteran CPI (M) activist, Bindu is Kerala’s new Minister for Higher Education.
A debutant in the State Assembly, Rani is the first woman from the Communist Party of India, who has been appointed as a minister after 1964. She began her journey as a public figure by associating with Balavedi, a children’s organisation of Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) and All India Students Federation (AISF). Her husband, D Sukesan is a CPI leader in Kollam, Kerala.
She has been sworn in as the Animal Husbandry Minister of Kerala.
A former journalist, George first got a taste of politics as an activist of Student Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of CPI(M). A rank holder in MSc (Physics) and BEd, she ventured into electoral politics in Kerala in 2016 by gaining a foothold over the Aranmula Assembly seat. She gave a tough fight to Congress veteran K Sivadasan Nair to win the coveted seat.
Five years later, she was re-elected from the same constituency in the Pathanamthitta district after pinning down Congress’s Sivadasan Nair. The story looked a little different in 2019, when she lost to Congress’s Anto Antony in the 2016 General Elections.
She took the oath as new Health Minister of the state, a position that was earlier held by KK Shailaja.
The last word
The physical swearing-in ceremony of the newly appointed ministers was held on May 20 in Thiruvananthapuram. The Kerala High Court had ruled that the ceremony would be permitted, as long as all the protocols are followed to contain the spread of Covid-19.
"Though states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, with more number of legislators in the Assembly have performed the swearing-in ceremony with lesser number, the government of Kerala, a forerunner in Covid-19 management, should restrict the number to the maximum to avoid the spread of the virus," the court said.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)