The polls to elect the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly were over on April 6 and though none has a clue of what’s in store for them, the two traditional political rivals have started to identify the best 20 state cabinet ministers.
For the BJP-led NDA, which opened its account in the 14th Kerala Legislative Assembly and won just one seat in the 2016 polls, the entire top brass of the party is hopeful of bettering its performance, while a few pre-poll surveys and the ruling Left have said the account that they opened last time will be closed this time.
While the ruling Left led by its captain Pinarayi Vijayan is expecting to rewrite political history in the state by becoming the first to retain power, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala is more than confident that, the days of Vijayan are numbered and its they who will form the next government in Kerala.
To start with, while there is no confusion on who will be leading the Left, if it retains power as there was only one captain and that was Pinarayi Vijayan, but in the Congress-led UDF, things are not that easy as Chennithala will have to fight it out with two time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said that in the Congress the norm is, if there is a contest, the elected Congress party legislators will select their leader and the final call will be taken by the party high command.
“Chandy has always been a winner and if he decides to contest, then Chennithala will definitely lose. Chandy for certain has more acceptability than Chennithala with the allies. Chandy will step in only if he is 100 per cent sure that he has more legislators who will raise their hands for him. If by any chance he does not contest, then it’s certain it would be Chennithala,” said the media critic.
“Then comes the question — if K. Muraleedharan, a sitting Lok Sabha member who was brought to contest from Nemom seat in the state capital to prevent the BJP from retaining its only seat, wins, and should the UDF form the government, he is definitely going to get the Home Minister portfolio, as Chennithala was later inducted into the Chandy cabinet, as Home Minister during Chandy’s second term (2011-16),” added the critic.
With regard to the cabinet ministers, already the name of Congress veteran, V.D. Satheeshan as Finance Minister has come up and others include Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, K. Sivadasan Nair and Bindhu Krishna.
If Vijayan gets a second term, the CPI-M will have to find replacements for veterans like Thomas Issac, A.K. Balan, G. Sudhakaran, C. Raveendranath, who failed to get a seat.
Among the names doing the rounds include former Rajya Sabha members K.N. Balagopal, P. Rajeev and the son-in-law of Vijayan- Mohammed Riyaz.
Like in the outgoing government, should the Left return, it’s a foregone conclusion that K.K. Shailaja will continue to be the Health Minister.
While the Congress-led UDF could find the finalisation of the 20 member cabinet (excluding the Chief Minister) a herculean affair, as never in the recent times has cabinet formation of the UDF been a smooth affair, but if it falls on the head of Vijayan, it would be a simple straight forward exercise for him, as he continues to be the unquestionable leader in the Left.
With another four more weeks to go for the votes to be counted, soon the heart beats of the rival fronts’ leaders will get louder and it will reach a crescendo on May 2 and the million dollar question now is, who is going to be the eventual winner and whosoever wins, certainly one group who will be in the opposition benches will be crestfallen, as all the dreams woven of becoming a minister will go out of the window.