Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government will take on board 20 new ministers, including Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Veena George, who is likely to replace her party colleague, KK Shailaja, as the Health Minister, sources have said.
The portfolios that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will keep are Home, Information Technology and Minority Welfare, sources have said.
The others are KN Balagopal (Finance), P Rajeev (Industries and Law), MV Govindan (Local Self Government Department or LSGD and Excise), V Sivankutty (General Education and Labour), R Bindhu (Higher Education), Saji Cheriyan (Fisheries and Culture), PA Muhammed Riyas (Public Works Department and Tourism), K Radhakrishnan (Devasom, Parliamentary Affairs, SC/ST and welfare of backward classes), VN Vasavan (Cooperative Department and Registration), V Abdurahman (Sports, Waqaf and Hajj), Roshy Augustin (Water Resources), K Krishnan Kutty (Electricity), Ahammed Devarkovil (Ports, Museum and Archaeology), K Rajan (Revenue), GR Anil (Food and Civil Supplies), Chinchu Rani (Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development) and P Prasad (Agriculture).
The person who will head the Transport Department is yet to be decided, sources have said.
A much debated aspect of the new team that will run the Kerala government under Mr Vijayan is the timing of the replacement of Ms Shailaja as Health Minister, in the context of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Shailaja, after the party decision on excluding her from the new cabinet, said it was a “policy decision” of the party that she accepted. “It is a policy decision of our party. So according to that decision, I also decided to quit,” the 64-year-old told NDTV on Tuesday. None from the previous ministry have got a second chance.
However, her exit led to a torrent of support for her on social media, with many asking why the leader who became a prominent face in the fight against the pandemic and was dubbed a “rock star” Health Minister for her handling of Covid in Kerala, had to be replaced. In September, the UK-based Prospect magazine named her “Top Thinker of the Year 2020”.
The incoming Health Minister, Ms George, was a journalist before she became a politician. She won from Aranmula assembly seat in the 2016 election, and got re-elected this year from the same constituency in Pathanamthitta district.