“I’m completely satisfied; the party made me a minister once. I tried to fulfill my duties as responsibly as I could. Now, when new ministers swear in, we are hopeful that they will do their responsibilities in a much better way,” KK Shailaja reacted with her usual calm composure amid the outrage against CPI(M) for not giving her a ministership post in Pinarayai Vijayan’s next cabinet. The CPI(M) decision that Shailaja will not be in the cabinet has come as a shocker for many, including the CPI(M) sympathisers.
Shailaja, Kerala's former Health Minister, shot to global fame with her efficient work during the Nipah outbreak and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While many debated if the decision was deliberate or voluntary, they awaited KK Shailaja’s reaction. When she finally reacted to the media, Shailaja said that it is the party's decision and that she is happy with it.
When asked if the state’s fight against COVID-19 would be affected with Shailaja's absence, she said, “Kerala’s fight against COVID-19 has not been Shailaja teacher’s own effort; it is a team effort. This is a system, and not an individual. As a minister, and as the head of the Health department, I have done my part. I was able to do this since the party made me a minister. Everything was a collective effort, led by CM Pinarayi Vijayan.”
KK Shailaja, who contested from Mattannur constituency in Kannur district, had won with a stunning margin of over 60,000 votes, the highest margin in the Assembly election so far. “I’m in Assembly as an MLA, everyone can work independently. I will work efficiently. I’m a humble worker of the party. I have to look after my constituency’s work,” she said.
Welcoming the new crop of ministers in the cabinet, KK Shailaja said that they too will showcase great performance in their capacities. She added that the new ministry will also continue to work relentlessly.
Reacting to the public criticisms against CPI(M) in denying her ministership, Shailaja said that she is happy to see the love showered by people. “I’m happy to see the love of people. But it is not just for me, their love is for the party too. That is why we came to power,” she said.
Reacting to the question of criticisms over the decision being a misogynic approach, KK Shailaja told NDTV’s Sneha Koshy, “We cannot say so. Fresh members always join the cabinet. When I joined the office, I was a fresh candidate. There are so many workers in the party; they should also get the opportunity to prove themselves.”
Watch KK Shailaja's reaction:
KK Shailaja, who hails from a Communist family, entered CPI(M) through student organisations. After working her way up the party, she won the Koothuparamba constituency in 1996. She contested in subsequent elections and became a Minister for the first time in Pinarayi Vijayan’s 2016 cabinet.
Apart from Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan, no other members in the previous Cabinet have been given ministership for the next five-year Assembly term. Though it was widely speculated that KK Shailja would be an exception, considering the popular reception and wide recognition for her works, CPI(M) decided not to include Shailaja.
From opposition party leaders and political observers to the public, scores of people have expressed shock and dissent against CPI(M)’s decision.