LDF likely to reshuffle cabinet to boost govt's image post-election

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Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM is likely to use the drubbing in the Loke Sabha elections as an opportunity to enhance its image, thereby discreetly acknowledging that the anti-incumbency sentiment was the primary reason for  poll debacle.
Although the lone candidate who won on behalf of the left coalition is a state minister himself, hardly anyone views this as an endorsement of the state cabinet or the government. The party, on the other hand, clearly realises that the personal image of K Radhakrishnan and the inherent left-leaning character of the Alathur constituency were key in his victory.

This, in turn, may give rise to discussions within the party and the LDF that a cabinet reshuffle is required not just to fill the seat vacated by Radhakrishnan but also to improve the government’s image. Having suffered defeats in the Lok Sabha elections for two consecutive terms, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan may not be able to turn down the demand this time.
Since the minister going to the Lok Sabha belongs to the Scheduled category, the party will have to consider a person from the same category while revamping the cabinet. The state has 16 MLAs who belong to the Scheduled category. Of these, 14 belong to the left front, and from this, nine are in the CPM.

Instead of Radhakrishnan, any one of O K Kelu, K M Sachin Dev, K Shanthakumari, P P Sumod, P V Sreenijan, A Raja, M S Arun Kumar, or O S Ambika will have to be drafted into the cabinet. Since there are already two women ministers in the cabinet, it is unlikely for yet another woman to be considered for the minister post. A Raja is fighting a case over his election while Sreenijan made his entry into CPM only recently. Considering that Sachin Dev had also served as president of the SFI, he stands a chance. However, he is locked in controversy in connection with the waylaying of a KSRTC bus in Thiruvananthapuram.
Although there are no constitutional obligations for the cabinet to include a minister from the Scheduled category, successive governments in the state have made it a norm to ensure the section’s representation in their cabinets.

Besides his significance as a minister belonging to the Scheduled category, Radhakrishnan also enjoys an image as the most popular minister in the present state cabinet. Moreover, he also happens to be the senior-most minister in the cabinet after the Chief Minister. Hence, the void left by him in the state cabinet cannot be filled only by ensuring representation from the Scheduled category.

There had been intermittent discussions about dropping some ministers who performed below par in the cabinet. The party might use this situation as a good opportunity to implement those changes. Despite the government not opting for a cabinet reshuffle after winning only one seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the current situation represents a continuous setback. The general assessment is that forming a cabinet by excluding experienced and popular ministers did not yield positive results. Several former ministers, such as K K Shailaja and T P Ramakrishnan, are still in the legislative assembly. The possibility of bringing back any of these former ministers might also come up in the discussions.

Minister trails in his booth
Thrissur: Although LDF candidate K Radhakrishnan won the seat by a comfortable margin, he trailed behind the rival candidate by nine votes in his booth. At booth number 75 in Chelakkara Thonnoorkkara AUP School, where Radhakrishnan cast his vote, the minister received 299 votes. The UDF candidate, Ramya Haridas, on the other hand, bagged 308 votes from the same booth.



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