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Chennithala takes charge as Home Minister

Special Correspondent
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Thiruvanchoor gets Forest, Environment and Transport

Ramesh Chennithala being sworn in as the Home Minister of Kerala by Governor Nikhil Kumar at Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.- Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar
Ramesh Chennithala being sworn in as the Home Minister of Kerala by Governor Nikhil Kumar at Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.- Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday assumed charge as Minister for Home, Vigilance, Fire and Rescue Services and Jails.

Governor Nikhil Kumar administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Chennithala at a function at Raj Bhavan.

Mr. Chennithala took the oath in the name of God. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, State ministers, Union Ministers, Speaker G. Karthikeyan, CPI(M) deputy leader in the Assembly Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) constituents, and Opposition parties were present. Hundreds of party workers, many from his constituency, had turned up to witness the swearing in ceremony.

The Chief Minister announced the redistribution of portfolios later in the evening according to which Mr. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan will handle all the portfolios held by former minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar. This includes Forest and Wildlife Protection, Sports and Cinema. In order to compensate Mr. Radhakrishnan for giving up Home, the Chief Minister gave him the Transport portfolio, held by Aryadan Mohammed, and Environment, held by Mr. Chandy himself.

Mr. Aryadan Mohammed was given the Pollution Control Board, formerly held by Cooperation Minister C.N. Balakrishnan. Mr. Radhakrishnan can hardly complain for the portfolios he has got, which significantly brings Forest and Environment under one minister after a long time.

Mr. Chennithala’s induction in the Cabinet ends a long wait during which his entry was a much debated topic in public domain. This is Mr. Chennithala’s second term as Minister in the State Cabinet, materialising after nearly 30 years after his first innings as Minister for Rural Development in the Karunakaran Ministry in 1986 at a young age 27.

He later made his Parliament debut and simultaneously held positions as president of the National Students Union and the Indian Youth Congress. After several stints as AICC secretary with charge of nearly seven States and four successful terms as MP, he took over as KPCC president in 2005 at a time when the party was in shambles following veteran K. Karunakaran’s split from the party.

Along with Mr. Chandy, Mr. Chennithala built up the Congress in the State. Mr. Chennithala continues to be the longest serving KPCC president, holding the post for eight consecutive years. His tenure witnessed the establishment of the party channel Jai Hind , Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Development Studies, revival of its organ, Veekshanam , reconstitution of various feeder organisations, to name a few.

Congress leaders consider his induction into the Cabinet as a game changer for the party, which had been groping for some time for a formula that would keep the communal balance in the Cabinet on even keel. Congress leaders also claim that the tense factional tussle has reduced considerably since the swearing in ceremony, which, they say, is a positive sign for the UDF. Leaders also viewed as significant the presence of top rung Indian Union Muslim League leaders, led by Saddique Ali Shihab Thangal.

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