The South Asian Times

21 June 2018 21:25 PM
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Jayarajan may be back in Cabinet as Vijayan mulls makeover

By IANS

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 20: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is all set to re-induct his former No.2 in the Cabinet E.P. Jayarajan and also effect a makeover of his team.

The decision reportedly follows his criticism by some Cabinet colleagues over the manner in which he handled the solar scam report, and to counter that he is said to be all set for a Cabinet reshuffle.

Informed sources told IANS that very soon a shake-up would be effected and there is every possibility of a swap of positions between Speaker of the Assembly P. Sreeramakrishnan with that of a state minister.

Vijayan could well spring a surprise by naming a woman as the first female Speaker of the assembly. At present there are two woman ministers in the Vijayan Cabinet.

Present state Labour and Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan, one of the closest aides of Vijayan and not in the best of health, is likely to be relieved of the Excise portfolio to reduce his work load.

Jayarajan had to quit as state Industries Minister from the Cabinet in October last year after charges of nepotism surfaced when he appointed two of his close relatives to top state public sector enterprises.

But last month, he and his party CPI-M got a huge relief, with the Kerala High Court quashing the FIR registered by the Vigilance Department.

The CPI-M has always been under firm control of the "Kannur lobby" in the party and Jayarajan also comes from Kannur, and until he was unceremoniously dropped, he was the most trusted aide of Vijayan.

By bringing him back, Vijayan expects to have enough ammunition to tackle any dissenting voices in the Cabinet.

At Thursday's Cabinet meeting, the first dissenting voice against Vijayan was his party colleague and Law Minister A.K. Balan, who said there was a kind of undue haste shown by Vijayan by going public with the findings of the solar commission report.

Soon thereafter, state Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran of the CPI and state Water Resources Minister Mathew. T. Thomas also echoed the view of Balan.

They felt that the decision to give the nod to register criminal, vigilance and also sexual harassment cases against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, his cabinet colleagues, a former union minister, legislators and other Congress leaders in the Rs 7-million solar scam case was also a hasty one.

Balan is particularly unhappy that while Vijayan took expert opinions from the Advocate General and the Director General of Prosecution on the solar commission report, while Balan and his Law Department were kept in the dark.

On Thursday, Vijayan announced that he was waiting for a third legal opinion and once that comes, the much-awaited government order for taking steps against Chandy and his men would start.

State Finance Minister Thomas Issac is another person in the Cabinet who does not share the best of relations with Vijayan, but given the tough manner he handles the portfolio, Issac's position is not said to be under any threat.

The CPI-M, which is getting ready for its upcoming state party conference to be followed by the party congress, is also mulling a bigger shake-up by dropping a few and inducting veterans like former minister S. Sarma and legislators Raju Abraham and Suresh Kurup.

Update: 20 Oct, 2017

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