Antony Raju and Devarkovil resign from Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet in Kerala, pave way for minor reshuffle

Kerala Congress (B) leader KB Ganesh Kumar and Congress (S) state president Kadannappalli Ramachandran will replace the ministers who have resigned.

ByK A Shaji

Published Dec 24, 2023 | 2:28 PMUpdatedDec 24, 2023 | 2:29 PM

File photos of Antony Raju and Ahmed Devarkovil.

Kerala Congress (B) leader KB Ganesh Kumar and Congress (S) state president Kadannappalli Ramachandran will replace Antony Raju and Ahmed Devarkovil, who resigned from the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet on Sunday, 24 December.

Transport Minister Raju and Ports Minister Devarkovil handed over their resignation letters to Vijayan at a Cabinet meeting held on Sunday, to facilitate the induction of the new ministers and the long-awaited reshuffle.

The chief minister would place the letters before the LDF coordination committee in the evening for formal ratification, before forwarding them to Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, now in Delhi.

The government expressed hope that the Governor would be back in Thiruvananthapuram by 29 December, and would administer the oath of office and secrecy to the two ministers.

If it did not happen, the swearing-in would be rescheduled for another date.

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Post-poll agreement

According to a prevailing agreement among LDF constituents, Kumar would get the transport department, while Kadannappalli would hold the ports’ portfolio.

KB Ganesh Kumar. (Facebook)

KB Ganesh Kumar. (Facebook)

Kadannappalli had held the same portfolio in the first Vijayan government. Kumar was the transport minister in the AK Antony government between 2001 and 2003.

A prominent Malayalam movie actor and son of the late Kerala Congress (B) supremo R Balakrishna Pillai, Kumar was the minister for forests in the Oommen Chandy government between 2011 and 2013.

A controversial figure in Kerala politics, Kumar later switched loyalty to the LDF.

According to government sources, the reshuffle was planned for the second week of November, when the government completed its half term.

However, it was delayed because of the Nava Kerala Sadas that demanded the presence of all the ministers in the journey across all 140 Assembly constituencies.

The sadas began in Kasaragod on 18 November and concluded in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.

The inclusion of Kumar and Kadannappalli in the Cabinet after two and a half years was part of a power-sharing agreement within the LDF.

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Single-MLA parties

In the 140-member Assembly, the Kerala Congress (B), Congress (S), Janathipathya Kerala Congress (JKC), and the Indian National League (INL) are single-MLA parties.

Kadannappally Ramachandran. (Wikimedia Commons)

Kadannappalli Ramachandran. (Wikimedia Commons)

Since the Cabinet strength could not exceed 21, the LDF in 2021 told Kadannappalli and Raju of the JKC to wait till the completion of the half-term. Kumar and Devarkovil were asked to take the oath.

However, after Kumar’s sister Usha Mohan Das and other family members lodged a written complaint accusing the MLA of financial irregularities, the chief minister replaced the actor-politician with Raju.

The status of the complaint was not immediately known.

Meanwhile, the chief minister turned down Rashtriya Janata Dal (formerly LJD) leader Varghese George’s request for a Cabinet berth for the party’s lone MLA, KP Mohanan.

Speaking to South First, Raju, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, said he ably presided over a challenging phase of Kerala’s public transportation and did his best to save the ailing Kerala Road Transport Corporation.

He claimed that the salary dues of the staff had been cleared.

Devarkovil said he was feeling proud of his role in ensuring the implementation of the multi-crore Vizhinjam international trans-shipment port project.