K.K. Shailaja | Setting a trend even on her way out

Former Health Minister K.K. Shailaja. File   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

On Tuesday afternoon, as soon as the news emerged that K.K. Shailaja’s name was missing from the State’s new Cabinet, the social media went abuzz with support for the popular outgoing Health Minister.

A few hours later, #ShailajaTeacher began to trend on Twitter. No regional political leader has perhaps in recent time in India been tweeted about as much, or posted about on Facebook, after being excluded from a the Council of Ministers.

Also read: CPI(M), CPI meet to name their Ministers in next Pinarayi Vijayan govt.

But, then, few regional leaders or State Ministers have gained as much national and international attention as Ms. Shailaja has. Her handling of the Nipah outbreak had put her in the limelight three years ago.

During the last one year, the limelight shone brighter, following the COVID-19 pandemic. She was featured in reputed publications overseas, even as she was being regularly interviewed by national news channels; she was called a rockstar and a virus-slayer.

Also read: CPI(M) central leadership chooses not to criticise Cabinet selection in Kerala

Ms. Shailaja’s resounding victory at the Assembly elections from Mattannur by a whopping margin of nearly 61,000 votes underlined the fact that she was one of the State’s most popular political leaders. Little wonder, the social media was shocked and outraged.

Actors react

On Facebook, actress Rima Kallingal asked a question that Ms. Shailaja herself had raised at the Assembly – Penninentha kuzhappam? Or, Do women have a problem (when it comes to governance)?

Many women agreed with the State Award winner, including her colleagues from cinema. Among them were Parvathy Thiruvoth, Rajisha Vijayan and Kani Kusruti, incidentally all winners of the State Award for the Best Actress, like Rima, in recent years.

Rima’s post, which sought to #bringbackshailajateacher, won some 11,000 likes in a couple of hours. On Instagram, Parvathy’s view was liked by more than 90,000 in roughly about the same time.

Beyond gender

Not surprisingly, many viewed the issue mainly from a feminist angle. Large number of women – well-known and not-so-well-known – from outside Kerala too reacted sharply on Twitter.

It was, however, not just women who sounded disappointed on Twitter. There were about as many men as well.

Not that everyone on social media was criticising the CPI(M)’s policy to include fresh faces in Pinarayi Vijayan’s new Cabinet. Some pointed out that Ms. Shailaja wasn’t the only performing Minister to be dropped and that somebody else also should get a chance, like she did five years ago.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 12:26:21 AM |

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