Kerala’s LDF government formation talks reach a concrete stage

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan cuts a cake in the presence of LDF partners during the start of the first LDF meeting after its resounding victory in the Assembly elections in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The profile of the next Pinarayi Vijayan government appeared to take a more definitive form on Monday afternoon as a fortnight of hectic behind-the-scenes seat-sharing talks seemed to reach finality.

Midway through the crucial leadership meeting, Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor A. Vijayaraghavan told reporters that the next government would have 21 Ministers.

Seat-sharing talks with the allies are almost complete. The LDF has drawn from a diverse cross-section of the Kerala society to form the next Cabinet. "All sections of people had supported the LDF. Hence, all segments will find representation in the government,” he said.

The LDF parliamentary party would meet on May 18 and elect its leader. It has entrusted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to decide the portfolios of potential Ministers.

Retains 12 Cabinet posts

The CPI(M) will retain the chair of the Speaker and 12 Cabinet posts. The party's State secretariat would meet here soon and finalise the list of Ministers. The party had reportedly approached the negotiations from a position of strength, given its powerful showing in the 2021 Assembly elections.

Speculation was rife that the CPI(M) would nominate new faces to the Cabinet overwhelmingly. One report said the CPI(M) might keep Health Minister K. K. Shylaja and populate the rest of the Cabinet with new faces.

The party had withdrawn an array of veteran leaders from the electoral field to allow a new generation of party members to compete in the Assembly polls and gain legislative experience.

The CPI(M) was likely to follow a similar template for selecting Ministers to ensure more party persons gained administrative experience and rose to leadership positions.

Communist Party of India (CPI) will keep four Cabinet posts and the Deputy Speaker's office. Its State council is meeting here on May 18 to decide its nominees to the cabinet.

One cabinet post each

Kerala Congress (M), Janata Dal (S), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will get one cabinet post each.

KC(M) will also get the post of the LDF chief whip. The party chairperson Jose. K. Mani said the talks were satisfactory. The LDF's unity is paramount. The KC(M) will name its Ministers soon.

A KC(M) insider said the party would nominate Roshy Augustine, who was elected on Sunday as legislative party leader, as its minister. It would propose N. Jayaraj to the post of Chief Whip, he said.

The CPI(M) had urged Indian National League (INL), Congress (S), Kerala Congress (B) and Democratic Kerala Congress (DKC) to hold a cabinet rank for 2.5 years and concede the remaining term to another single-member ally.

DKC legislator Antony Raju, who hails from the Latin Catholic community, a critical demographic in Kerala, would swear in as Minister for 2.5 years along with Ahammad Devarkovil of the INL.

KC(B) legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar and Congress (S) MLA Kadanapally Ramachandran would serve in their stead for the remaining period of the government as per an agreement reached at the LDF meeting.

The NCP national general secretary Praful Patel is likely to be in Kerala on Tuesday to nominate the party's Minister. It has two MLAs, incumbent Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran (Elathur) and Thomas K. Thomas (Kuttanad), a first-time legislator and brother of the late Minister Thomas Chandy.

It was unclear whether the LJD, with a single MLA, would get a Cabinet post. The party might have to settle for a board or corporation. The next government will swear in on May 20 following pandemic protocol.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 5:28:36 PM |

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