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Will forming Cabinet 2.0 prove tricky for Pinarayi Vijayan?
Thiruvananthapuram, May 6 - The difficult task of winning the elections over, will Pinarayi Vijayan now have it easy or tough, as starting Thursday he begins talks for the composition of Version-2 Pinarayi cabinet.
Vijayan entered the history books by leading the Left Democratic Front government to its second successive win when he increased his tally from 91 seats to 99 in the 140-member Kerala Legislative Assembly.
According to the rules the cabinet can have a maximum strength of 21 including the Chief Minister. There are three other posts which come with cabinet status -- Assembly Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip.
In the outgoing Vijayan cabinet the CPI-M had 12 Ministers and the Chief Minister's post, the second biggest ally CPI had four ministers with one each for the Nationalist Congress Party, the Congress (S) and the Janata Dal (S).
However this time the Left has given full fledged ally status to the Kerala Congress (B), the Indian National League (INL) besides two new allies who jumped the fence from the Congress led Opposition -- Kerala Congress (Mani) and Loktantrik Janata Dal.
Then there is Kovoor Kunjumon who has been a fellow traveller of the Left ever since he came from the UDF, ahead of the 2016 assembly polls and this time he won his fifth straight election.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said that it may be tough for Vijayan to do the balancing act but Vijayan, given his now exalted status, should be able to finalise all the posts quickly.
"All what now remains to be seen is, in his first outing his cabinet had 20 people, even when he could have added one more. If it's going to be like last time, then all the allies will not be able to be accommodated. But if it has to take place, the CPI-M and the CPI will have to end up with lesser posts than in 2016, which can be tough, especially the CPI who might raise a hue and cry," said the critic.
In 2016, while the Speaker's post was taken by the CPI-M, this time too it will be the same. The CPI got the Deputy Speaker's and the Chief Whip's posts.
Meanwhile there are reports that veteran outgoing Minister Kadanapally Ramachandran, the lone Cong (S) legislator, who won again might be left out this time.
But filmstar turned legislator KB Ganesh Kumar of the Kerala Cong( B) is in all likelihood to get the nod.
The INL party and Kovoor Kunjumon have given letters to Vijayan that they should be considered when posts are decided.
Later on Thursday, he along with his party leaders will have a one to one talk with the CPI and if the CPI agrees to sacrifice one cabinet post, then Vijayan will be able to run through the proceedings with the others smoothly. If not, then there will have to be further discussions.
With the Covid pandemic raging in Kerala and the state in a semi-lockdown mode, Vijayan has decided to wait a while before the swearing in date is fixed. As things stand it could happen in the third week of May, hence, he will have enough time to wrap up talks with his allies.
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