OR Kelu to become Kerala's Minister for Welfare of SC, ST; first cabinet member from Wayanad

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Thiruvananthapuram: Mananthavady MLA OR Kelu will replace Minister K Radhakrishnan, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Alathur. Kelu’s name was considered for the post since the beginning due to his membership in the CPM state committee and his position in the tribal welfare committee. Kelu had secured victory in the Mananthavady constituency in the 2016 assembly elections, defeating UDF candidate PK Jayalakshmi. He repeated his success in 2021. Jayalakshmi, a member of the Scheduled Tribe, had served in the cabinet in the 2011 Oommen Chandy government.

With this, Wayanad will gain representation in the cabinet for the first time. There was no minister from Wayanad in the first Pinarayi government either.

The CPM State Secretariat arrived at the final decision after much deliberation. OR Kelu is the first Scheduled Tribe leader from Wayanad district to ascend to the CPM state committee. Kelu, hailing from the Kurichya community, also chairs the Legislative Committee on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Backward Welfare. He has been an active people’s representative for over two decades, starting as a Gram Panchayat member in 2000 from Edayoorkunnu Ward of Tirunelli Gram Panchayat. He subsequently served as the president of Tirunelli Gram Panchayat for two terms from 2005 to 2010. Later, in 2015, he became a member of the Mananthavady block panchayat from the Tirunelli division.   

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