Crucial LDF meet today to finalise makeup of second Pinarayi Vijayan govt.

The CPI(M) is engrossed in a behind-the-scenes effort to divide up and share out a maximum of 21 Cabinet posts among allies

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) is meeting here on Monday to shape the contours of the second Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala.

Also read: Data | Assembly election 2021: The Left returns in Kerala

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] is engrossed in a behind-the-scenes effort to divide up and share out a maximum of 21 Cabinet posts among allies.

The LDF is attempting to draw from a diverse cross-section of Kerala society to form the next Cabinet.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, LDF convener A. Vijayaraghavan and Communist Party of India (CPI) State secretary Kanam Rajendran are leading the closed-door consultations.

An LDF insider clued in on the talks said the CPI was likely to propose new faces to the Cabinet. It had also staked a claim for the post of Deputy Speaker. He said CPI circles had mentioned MLA designates P. Prasad, K. Rajan, P.S. Supal, J. Chinchu Rani, E.K. Vijayan and Chittayam Gopakumar as potential Ministerial candidates.

Caretaker Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan also stood an outside chance of being included in the next government, given the department’s continuing role in COVID-19 management.

CPI to meet on May 18

The CPI will decide its Ministers on May 18. Mr. Rajendran has summoned the party’s State executive. The CPI’s State council would also meet on the same day. By one account, the party has sought the portfolios it held currently. They are Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Food and Civil Supplies.

The CPI(M) is likely to hold on to at least 12 Cabinet posts, including that of the Chief Minister.

Mr. Vijayaraghavan had said the party would decide its Ministers after the LDF meeting on May 17. He had hinted that the CPI(M) would propose a blend of new faces and experienced hands as Ministers.

When pressed on May 5 whether high-profile CPI(M) members in the earlier government would return to the Council of Ministers, Mr. Vijayaraghavan said: “The party had withdrawn an array of veteran comrades from the electoral field to allow a new generation of party members to compete in the Assembly polls and gain legislative and administrative experience”.

Mr. Vijayaraghavan suggested that the party might follow a similar template for selecting Ministers. He hinted that not all CPI(M) Ministers in the previous Cabinet would find a berth in the next government.

The names of three CPI(M) State secretariat members, newly elected to the Assembly, were making the rounds in the television media. They are former Speaker K. Radhakrishnan, political secretary to former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, K.N. Balagopal and P. Rajeev, chief editor, Deshabhimani, the party newspaper.

When pressed on May 15, Mr. Vijayan refused to speculate on his new Cabinet. Instead, he urged the media to make a forecast. He said the new government would be sworn in on May 20.

Kerala Congress (M) is likely to get a Cabinet rank and post of the Chief Whip. It had elected MLA designate Roshy Augustine as the legislature party leader, paving his entry into the next Cabinet.

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

It has asked the party leaders to make up their minds by Monday. KC (B) leader and four-time MLA from Pathanapuram K. B. Ganesh Kumar has reportedly sought a full term. So has DKC leader, Antony Raju, MLA. Congress (S) MLA Kadanapally Ramachandran and INL legislator Ahamad Devarkovil would state their case at the LDF meeting.

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 Janata Dal (S) was almost sure to land a Cabinet berth.

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