The decision is now final that people’s ‘shero’ outgoing Kerala Health Minister K.K.Shailaja is not going to be there in the new Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet, which will be sworn in here on Thursday and even though none doubts her performance, the moot question is did she dig her own grave?
The decision by the party to leave out Shailaja has come under heavy criticism, especially on the social media, even demanding the party to change their decision.
This clearly shows she will go the way her illustrious predecessors K.R.Gowri who passed away last week and late Susheela Gopalan went after raising high hopes of even being considered for the post of Chief Minister.
In 1987 Gowri and in 1996 Gopalan that hogged centre stage — even being considered as the first woman Chief Minister, but at the last minute on both occasions, Comrade E.K.Nayanar breasted the tape and the CPI-M said they never said anything like this and the party’s decision was final.
Incidentally, Shailaja’s status grew as a Minister after Nipah struck the northern district of Kozhikode in 2018 and it came at a time, when murmurs made rounds in the party that her performance was not as desired, but since then her status changed.
Then came the mega floods that year and again in 2019 and her status in people’s eye catapulted when Covid pandemic struck in 2020 January, when the first Covid case in the country was identified in Thrissur.
Since then Shailaja has been a constant onon TV screens on a daily basis explaining the Covid situation and even the international media came calling on her and there were even talks she might be considered for a Nobel prize.
There were times, when the local media had to wait for days to get an interview with the Teacher and the answer that was given was “you are in the queue as even the international media is waiting”.
Sensing the shift, Vijayan, who is known for his anti-media stand, broke the shackles and his daily Covid briefing soon became one of the most viewed TV programme. Ever since then Shailaja was seen only as an onlooker and day by day, her place in the public domain was restricted.
What’s more surprising Shailaja was very active when the state had a handful of cases and she disappeared into oblivion when the daily cases crossed 40,000 cases and then the talk of the town was — did she dig her own grave and was she portraying herself above other party leaders and even the party.
Incidentally after her stunning victory by recording the highest ever margin of over 60,000 in the April 6th assembly polls, the media went to town that Vijayan will retain only Shailaja in his new team from his party and it remained intact till Tuesday when at the State Secretariat meeting of her party which she is also a member decided not to include her.
Though a weak defence came from a few, the decision not to include anyone from the previous cabinet was conveyed to the nearly 80 member state committee and here too it was cleared, paving the way for her exit.
The decision to drop her was taken at a Politburo meeting held here which included Vijayan, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, M.A. Baby and S.Ramachandran Pillai and it was this decision that was relayed in their other two committees.
On Wednesday morning CPI-M acting secretary A.Vijayaraghavan said the party is the final decision maker when it comes to organisational issues and political decisions which are made.
“I have no clue of a campaign which is currently on to bring her back. I do not know. The party has made its decision and it’s final,” said Vijayaraghavan, who was also one of the biggest beneficiaries when Vijayan formed his new cabinet when his wife a college professor and a first time legislator — R.Bindhu found a place in the cabinet, much to the surprise of many.
Another surprising defence that came about the omission of Shailaja was from former Health Minister in the V.S.Achuthanandan cabinet (2006-11) P.K.Sreemathi, who said she was also a health minister and after her tenure she went her way and nothing has happened to her.
“I even won an award from the President of India,” defended Sreemathi, who after her tenure as health minister got a term to the Lok Sabha and later lost the seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Presently she is a central committee member of the party.
Speaker elect M.B.Rajesh, an avid social media enthusiast, described the cries for Shailaja in the social media as nothing but a natural expression, “as in the social media it’s more of an emotional outburst and hence it can be left like that”.
However the national leadership also was taken aback and following the public sentiments it is going to take this issue up at its next meeting.
But as things stand for all practical purposes, Shailaja has become history and anyone who knows the CPI-M, for it individuals do not matter, as the party is final and if at all there is any exception to that, it’s only for Vijayan.