Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday announced the names of nine Congress Ministers who will join his Cabinet. They are Aryadan Mohammed, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Adoor Prakash, K.C. Joseph, A.P. Anil Kumar, C.N. Balakrishnan, K. Babu, V.S. Sivakumar, and K.P. Jayalakshmi.
The Congress Ministers, along with three Ministers of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and one from the Kerala Congress(M), will be sworn-in at the Raj Bhavan at 4 p.m. on Monday. The IUML is expected to announce its Ministers on Sunday. P.J. Joseph will come in as the Kerala Congress(M) nominee.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Chandy said the Congress nominees were finalised after discussions with leaders in the State and in New Delhi prior to getting the high command's approval. “We wanted to include several seniors, but have not been able to do so owing to the limitations on the size of the Cabinet,” he said.
The Ministry formation is being completed within the time frame he had announced. The portfolios of all the Ministers will be announced soon after the swearing-in ceremony.
The Chief Minister said the nominee for the post of Speaker had not been finalised. A Cabinet meeting to be held after the swearing-in ceremony would decide on the date for convening the first session of the new Assembly. The decision on the nomination of the Speaker would be decided after this, he said.
In reply to a question, Mr. Chandy said the Congress had tried to give representation to various sections in the Cabinet to the extent possible. Those sections which had gone unrepresented would be given appropriate accommodation at various levels in the party and administration. Asked whether there would be a separate Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Chandy said: “The decision as of today is to have a 20-member Cabinet.”
Asked about the Opposition's stand on inducting ‘tainted' persons into the Ministry, Mr. Chandy's response was: “What right does the Opposition leader have to make such a demand? Mr. Achuthanandan, at this first press conference after assuming charge as Chief Minister, had proclaimed that he would take strong action against corrupt Ministers. He not only did not do anything when charges were levelled against some of his Ministers, but even went to the extent of accusing his own Minister of corruption to the tune of Rs.80,000 crore. When I was Chief Minister, K.P. Viswanathan, who was a Minister in my Cabinet, resigned when the High Court made an adverse reference against him in a case. The Supreme Court later exonerated him. Similarly, K.K. Ramachandran resigned as Health Minister following corruption charges. He too was exonerated by courts.”
He defended his Minister-designate Adoor Prakash stating that it was for courts to give the verdict against an accused. He had expressed his opinion regarding the case when it came up during his tenure as Leader of the Opposition, but the government failed to respond to it.
Asked how he would describe his Cabinet, Mr. Chandy said it was for the people of the State to make an evaluation.