The ostensible balancing act of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the Cabinet composition has not been well-received by several Muslim organisations which felt that the Council of Ministers was heavily skewed in favour of Nair and Christian communities.
Also, the Chief Minister’s takeover of the portfolio of Minorities Welfare has not found favour with them. “The Cabinet composition does not reflect the State’s social diversity. In terms of demographic representation, the Muslim community has been sidelined. The Chief Minister taken charge of the portfolio of the Welfare of Minorities buckling under pressure from the Church groups,” Shaikh Muhammad Karakunnu, Assistant Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Kerala chapter, said.
The Left parties, Mr. Karakunnu alleged, had ignored the importance of diverse representation, even leaving out the Scheduled Tribe community from the Cabinet. “The Congress-led United Democratic Front, when in power, could strike a balance giving the Muslim community a fair representation. But this was only because its constituent, the Indian Union Muslim League, secured a fifth Minister during the previous Oommen Chandy Cabinet,” Mr. Karakunnu said.
Muslim Employees Cultural Association State general secretary N.K. Ali said there was a negative feeling among the Muslim community about their poor representation in the new Cabinet. “Muslims constitute over 26% of the population in the State. Of the three Ministers belonging to the Muslim community, the tenure of one (Ahammad Devarkovil) will end after two-and-a-half years. His portfolios do not carry much weight. V. Abdurahiman too has been given some insignificant portfolios,” he said.
He said the Chief Minister’s decision on the Welfare of Minorities portfolio was prompted by ‘Islamophobia from certain quarters.’ “The Chief Minister yielded to the persuasion of a community that constitutes 18% of the State’s population,” Mr. Ali said.
Social Democratic Party of India ( SDPI) State secretary Mustafa Kommeri said upper caste Hindus and Christians had been always occupying Cabinet berths disproportionate to their demographic share. “Muslims had overwhelmingly supported the Left in the Assembly polls. But the community did not receive a fair representation. The tall talk of social engineering and uplift of downtrodden people have not been put in practice,” Mr. Kommeri alleged.