Thiruvananthapuram: With Kerala Excise minister M.V. Govindan replacing Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as new party’s secretary owing to the latter’s failing health, efforts have begun to fill in at least two vacancies in the second Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet.
Replacements have to be found for Govindan and Saji Cherian, who had to quit over his controversial remarks about the Constitution.
The post of party secretary remains with the Kannur lobby in the party, as the 69-year-old Govindan is reportedly a diehard fan of Vijayan and also hails from Kannur.
Even though he is junior to Left Democratic Front convenor and former state industries Minister E.P.Jayarajan, Vijayan got that brushed aside as Jayarajan is more known for his loose tongue.
Chief Minister Vijayan also ensured that other veterans like politburo members M.A.Baby and A.Vijayaraghavan also are kept out.
Now with Vijayan able to place his close aide Govindan, the discussions now have begun on the two new faces who will become ministers.
Speculation is rife that State Education Minister V.Sivankutty, who can come under duress next month when a lower court reads out his charge sheet for engaging in ruckus inside the state Assembly in 2015, might resign and take up the key post of the district secretary of the CPI-M in the state capital.
Hence there could be definitely two if not three new ministers and hence the top brass of the CPI-M have already started discussing and the only thing one is waiting to see is will there be any inductees like former State Health Minister K.K.Shailaja, who was a surprise exclusion when Vijayan chose his cabinet in 2021 May.
But sources close to Vijayan indicate that he is not keen to get back Shailaja as it might dip his stock.
Performance of Shailaja’s successor, journalist-turned-legislator Veena George will also be evaluated during the meeting and it is being said that she might be made the Assembly speaker and M.B.Rajesh made a minister.
A political analyst on condition of anonymity said: “The CPI-M knows how to play the rhetoric and hence Veena becoming the speaker cannot be ruled out as it would be the first time a lady will be taking over the post enabling the party to speak more about gender equality,” said the analyst.
V.Joy, P.P.Thilothaman, A.M.Shamseer and K.V.Sumesh figure in the list of probable ministers.
In case of a pressure to include Shailaja, the names of former ministers- T.P.Ramakrishnan and A.C Moideen who were ministers in the first Vijayan government also might come up, as the present cabinet, it’s a group of inexperience, which has come under fire.
With Kerala all gearing up to celebrate the Onam festival after a gap of two years, the swearing-in is expected only towards the second or third week of September and until then it would be speculation and wild guesses.