Vijayan's 21-member cabinet to have 3 women, handful of first-timers

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 19 (PTI) The second Pinarayi Vijayan government, which comes to power bucking the four- decade-old trend of alternate front rule in Kerala, will have a 21-member-strong cabinet with a handful of first-time legislators and three women members, the highest in recent time.

Barring the Chief Minister, K Krishnankutty of JD-S and A K Saseendran of NCP, the Water Resources and Transport Ministers respectively in the previous LDF government, are the only old faces in the new ministry.

Both CPI-M and CPI, the major partners in the ruling coalition, opted not to retain any of their ministers from the previous government.

The JD-S and NCP, which have one nominee each in the cabinet, have decided to give another chance to their outgoingrepresentatives.

Though the portfolios are yet to be announced by the ruling front, Vijayan late last eveninghanded over the letter electing him as the Parliamentary party leader to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and staked claim for forming the new government.

The new government would sworn in a function to be held at the Central Stadium here on Thursday in adherence with strict COVID protocol.

In his second stint as Chief Minister, Vijayan is basking in the glory of leading the Left front to an astonishing consecutive victory, sending shock waves among the traditional rivals Congress-UDF and BJP-NDA.

P A Mohammed Riyas, the DYFI national president and the son-in-law of Vijayan and R Bindhu, wife ofMarxist Party's acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan, (both CPI-M) and G R Anil, Chinchu Rani and P Prasad ( all CPI) and Ahammed Devarkovil (INL) were among the first-time MLAs who got the cabinet berth.

Forty five-year-old Riyas, who came to mainstream politics through SFI and DYFI, the Marxist party's student and youth outfits, had unsuccessfully contested from Kozhikode constituency in 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

It is for the first time in the history of the Kerala Assembly that a father-in-law and son-in-law will come together to be part of the House and the cabinet.

Bindhu, a college professor by profession, had served as the first woman Mayor of Thrissur.

Besides Bindhu, Aranmula MLA Veena George and J Chinchu Rani, who won from Chadayamangalam constituency, would be the other women to be part of the the new Left government.

Three women ministers is the highest in recent times in the state assembly, which had two and one respectively in the previous LDF and UDF governments.

A former athlete, Chinchurani is also the first ever woman minister from the CPI in the state, party sources said.

This is for the second consecutive time that journalist-turned politician Veena George is elected to the state assembly.

A rank-holder during her studies, this former news anchor is speculated to get some major portfolios in her first stint as minister.

Though M B Rajesh, the speaker designate, K N Balagopal and P Rajeev were also elected as MLA for the first time, they have experience as Members of Parliament.

Among them, Rajeev and Balagopal are also the state secretariat members of the CPI(M).

V Sivankutty is being inducted into the new Vijayan cabinet with the glory of wresting back the BJP's lone Nemom seat and thus closing the saffron party's account in the southern state.

A five-time MLA, K Radhakrishnan would be the Dalit face of the Left government while Kannur strongman M V Govindan, a party ideologue, would be the lone central committee member of the Marxist party after Vijayan in the cabinet.

Idukki MLA Roshi Augustin is the nominee of the Kerala Congress (M), which recently came into the Left fold after snapping its decades-long ties with the opposition UDF.

He has been representing the high range district since 2001.

The CPI(M) would have 12 members in the cabinet while CPI four and Kerala Congress (M), Janata Dal (S) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) one representative each.

As there are restrictions to accommodate more than 21 members in the cabinet, the LDF recently decided to share the ministerial berths to four of its allies, having single MLA, on a term basis.

With this, Antony Raju, (Janadhipathya Kerala Congress) and Ahammad Devarkovil (Indian National League) would become ministers in the first term while K B Ganesh Kumar ( Kerala Congress-B) and Ramachandran Kadannappally (Congress-S) were expected to be inducted into the cabinet in the second phase.