Colourful, low-key ceremony marks historic inauguration of second LDF government in Kerala

Published : May 20, 2021 17:55 IST

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with his new Cabinet colleagues after the swearing in ceremony at the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on May 20. Pic credit: . Photo: KERALA PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

A colourful but low-key swearing in ceremony, organised according to COVID-19 protocol and as per restrictions imposed by the Kerala High Court, marked the inauguration of the historic second term of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan administered the oath of office and secrecy to second-time Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and 20 other designated Ministers of the CPI(M)-led coalition at the Central Stadium on a flower-decked podium against a bright red backdrop with the bold, legend: ‘Swearing-in ceremony of the Council of Ministers headed by Shri Pinarayi Vijayan’.

A virtual musical programme, ‘Navakerala Geetanjali’, with 54 prominent Malayalam artists participating remotely to render melodious snippets from songs and slogans that had energised the left movement in Kerala from its early days, was the only unlikely facet of the august function.

Multiple screens dominated the huge pandal where around 280 chairs were arranged following strict social distancing norms. The limited number of invited guests were required to have proof of vaccination or COVID negative certificates after RTPCR tests.

The few prominent invitees included CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, CPI(M) acting State CPIM) secretary A. Vijayaraghavan, CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran and leaders of other LDF partners.

Earlier in the morning, the Minister-designates belonging to the two communist parties paid their respects as per tradition at the memorial to the martyrs of the Punnapra-Vayalar struggle in Alappuzha.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), which could win only 41 of the 140 seats in the Assembly election, had announced it would not attend the swearing-in ceremony. Opposition leaders said they felt it was not appropriate to hold such a big public function (originally scheduled with 500 invitees) when there was a triple-lockdown in place in Thiruvananthapuram and people were being asked strictly to stay indoors.

The city, which would have otherwise been awash with red flags and joyous victory processions from many other districts of the State on such an occasion, wore a generally deserted look in the wake of the triple lockdown. The government had informed the High Court, while responding to a petition against the conduct of the swearing in ceremony that, with the opposition too deciding to stay away, the number of people attending the function would be limited at the stadium which has a seating capacity of nearly 5,000 people.

In addition to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, other CPI(M) Ministers sworn in included K.N. Balagopal, P. Rajeeve, M.V. Govindan, K. Radhakrishnan; Veena George, Saji Cheriyan, V.N. Vasavan, V. Sivankutty, P.A. Mohamed Rias, R. Bindu and V. Abdurahiman.

The four Ministers from the CPI are K. Rajan, P. Prasad, G.R. Anil and J. Chinchurani.

The others in the new Cabinet are: Roshy Augustine (Kerala Congress-M), K. Krishnan Kutty (Janata Dal-S), A.K. Saseendran (Nationalist Congress Party), Antony Raju (Janadhipathia Kerala Congress) and Ahammed Devarkovil (Indian National League).

The representatives of the JKC and the INL are to switch their Cabinet seats with the Kerala Congress(B) and the Congress(S), as per an agreement in the LDF. The Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) is the only LDF partner that has not been given a Cabinet seat.

Later, the new Ministers and their families attended high tea at the Raj Bhavan. The first Cabinet meeting is scheduled to be held later in the evening, after which the portfolios of the new Ministers are expected to be announced officially by the Chief Minister.

The other MLAs will take the oath of office on May 24.


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