Reshuffle of CPM, CPI portfolios likely in second Pinarayi cabinet

Thiruvananthapuram: A reshuffle of portfolios currently held by the Left Democratic Front constituent parties is likely in the second Pinarayi Vijayan government.

The reshuffle is to accommodate in the cabinet new parties that have joined the LDF. The change in portfolios will be applicable to CPM also.

Only CPM, CPI, Janata Dal (S), NCP and Congress (S), have their representatives in the outgoing cabinet. Of them, Congress (S) is likely to be dropped from the new cabinet, and three new parties would be included.

The strength of the cabinet will go up to 21 from the current 20. Accommodating all parties won’t be possible without a reshuffle of portfolios.

The CPM had not discussed the portfolios during the first round of bilateral talks. The allies were told that portfolios could be discussed after finalizing the number of ministers from each party.

Kerala Congress (M) has been assured a cabinet berth, though it had demanded two. The party is interested in Public Works, Water Resources and Agriculture portfolios.

CPM has been holding Public Works in the outgoing cabinet, while Agriculture and Water Resources have been with CPI and Janata Dal (S), respectively.

CPI, meanwhile, has not indicated its willingness to give up any of its major departments: Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Food and Civil Supplies. The party, however, would be willing for a compromise on the other departments it has been holding along with the major one.

CPM will continue to hold the Finance, Education, Health, Industries, Power, Local Self Government, Co-operation, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare, and Culture portfolios. It will also be open to give up minor portfolios.

If Ramachandran Kadannappally steps aside, Ports and Museums portfolios would be added to the common pool. The top LDF leadership is also examining experts’ advice on new portfolios, suggested in the light of changing priorities. Kadannappally handled the Ports and Museums portfolios in the first Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet.

CPM’s top leadership has started talks on its ministers and their portfolios after the completion of the first round of bilateral talks with LDF allies. The discussions are under utmost secrecy and even State secretariat members are in the dark over possible ministers and their portfolios.

The suggestions of the politburo-level discussions will be placed before the State secretariat on May 18. Pinarayi Vijayan, S Ramachandran Pillai Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and M A Baby are involved in the politburo-level talks.

The routine State secretariat meeting on Friday has been cancelled due to the lockdown. While a section of CPM leaders have demanded to replace all ministers, except the chief minister, with new faces, others opined that only a few should be retained in the second Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet that will be sworn in on May 20.

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