On May 18, Kerala’s newly elected LDF-led government dropped all ministers from the previous Cabinet in a bid to look for new faces, including health minister KK Shailaja who was lauded by ‘experts’ for handling the Covid-19 crisis in the state. Only Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is getting a second term from the old Cabinet. As per sources, she has been elected as Party Whip.
Shailaja and her term as health minister
Shailaja, a retired teacher, gained popularity as the health minister for the ‘Kerala model’ of battling the pandemic. She was lauded by national and international media lauded for her handling of the Covid-19 virus. In September last year, a UK-based magazine selected Shailaja as the “Top Thinker of the Year 2020”. After all that PR campaign, Kerala is poised to get a new health minister.
Nevertheless, the Kerala model of Covid-19 management has failed spectacularly. During the second wave of the pandemic, the state has been consistently reporting more than 25,000 cases a day. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the maximum number of new cases reported by Kerala in a single day was on May 12 when the state reported over 43,000 cases in a single day.
LDF getting heat for changing health minister
Several experts have raised eyebrows at the decision made by the Kerala government to change the health minister in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis despite the failure of the ‘Kerala Model’.
Kerala’s Health minister KK Shailaja who won by a huge margin, and those who have served twice as ministers not to be part of new government… https://t.co/LbuiuXefWs— Karthigaichelvan S (@karthickselvaa) May 18, 2021
Some called the decision to drop Shailaja as evidence of ‘sexism’.
The sexism is obvious. Please don’t try and defend it. Someone as good as Shailaja Teacher not making it is itself proof of ego and sexism. There is a pandemic going on and people literally voted to keep her in. You can’t just ignore that.— Arya (@RantingDosa) May 18, 2021
Only 3 acceptable reasons for Shailaja teacher to not continue as Kerala Health Min:— Ragamalika (@rgmlk) May 18, 2021
1. She becoming Kerala CM
2. She becoming all India Health Min
3. She becoming PM
Can anyone say they did not expect it? Women are great when they are accessories & shadows. The minute they show the slightest sign of overshadowing, they are shown the door. What gymnastics are comrades going to perform to explain why Shailaja isn’t in? Unless it was her choice— meena kandasamy || stand with #palestine 🇵🇸 (@meenakandasamy) May 18, 2021
On the other hand, reports suggested that CPIM said that it is part of their policy to have new members in the team. The Kerala government under Pinarayi Vijayan as CM will be sworn in on May 20. A total of 21 ministers will take oath on the day. The ceremony is expected to be low-key amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Sources suggest that MB Rajesh has been nominated as a Speaker candidate.
CPI(M), the largest coalition partner in the LDF government, will have 12 members in the Cabinet. CPI will have four members, while Kerala Congress (M), Janata Dal (S), and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will have one member each.
In the recent Kerala elections, LDF won 99 seats, beating Congress-led UDF and BJP-NDA. UDF managed to get 41 seats while NDA could not secure any seat in Kerala.