Thiruvananthapuram, May 19 (PTI) K K Shailaja's omission from the new LDF cabinet, which has caused a flutter, was in line with ruling CPI(M)'s position on giving new faces a chance, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday.
His own continuation as chief minister for a successive term, after the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front swept the April 6 polls, was again in line with the party's decision, Vijayan told reporters.
The non-inclusion of Shailaja, Health Minister in the outgoing LDF cabinet, has set off a debate with many including celebrities backing her and demanding that she be reinstated in the ministry.
Shailaja played a leading role in the state's fight against Covid-19, and was especially lauded for her handling of the pandemic in the first wave.
Vijayan insisted that the state's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic was a collective effort.
On Wednesday, responding to a volley of questions on Shailaja's exclusion, Vijayan said he respects the opinion from various sections of society but stated that the party's policy was that new people should come.
He hailed the performance of his colleagues in the outgoing ministry but said the party's decision was 'not to grant any special exemption to anyone'.
'Many of the previous ministers did exemplary job in their portfolios. The party decided not to grant any sort of exemption to anyone. The party's position is to bring in new people,' he said.
The decision to drop Shailaja was taken based on that line of the party, the Chief Minister said.
Asked if Shailaja, who performed exceptionally well as the health minister, deserved a second chance, Vijayan said there were many who deserved another opportunity.
Responding to a query if her absence will hamper Kerala's fight against the pandemic, Vijayan said it was a collective effort of the government and that it will go on efficiently.
He pointed out the party had denied tickets to many who performed very well as legislators and ministers.
They were denied a chance as a decision was taken by the party that no exemption should be granted to anyone who had won twice in succession in the Assembly polls, he said.
'That decision was also taken to give opportunities to new people. That was the most risky decision but the CPI(M) could present the matter before the people. They completely endorsed the party's position,' Vijayan said.
High profile ministers in the outgoing ministry, T M Thomas Isaac and G Sudhakaran, were among those who were denied tickets in the Assembly polls on the basis of the criteria set by the party.
Asked about the social media outcry on why exemption was given to the Chief Minister, the CPI(M) veteran said he was continuing in the post because of the party's decision.
Though critics and media alleged Shailaja was sidelined, the CPI(M) took the position that all ministers except the CM should be fresh faces in the new cabinet.
Hailed as 'rockstar health minister' by the global media for her able leadership, effective crisis management and mature intervention in arresting the first wave of Covid-19 in the state, Shailaja's non-inclusion raised many eyebrows cutting across party lines.
Earlier in the day, CPI(M) said the dropping of Shailaja was a 'political and organisational' decision of the party and there would not be any re-look into it.
As far as the Communist party is concerned, politics and organisation were equally important and the present decision was in accordance with it, CPI(M) state acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan said.
'The party has to take into account its political and organisational interests. As a ruling party, it has to give due consideration to protect the interest of the state also.
So, the party arrives at such decisions after serious contemplation,' he told reporters. PTI TGB SA BN BALA BN BALA