New Modi Cabinet: BJP is likely to induct at least one minister from Kerala to strengthen its support base in the state which has always been an ideological challenge for the party.
Modi 2.0 Cabinet: NDA is likely to finalise the names of its leaders by Wednesday, who will be inducted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new cabinet as he prepares to take the oath of office and secrecy for the second time on Thursday. However, because of centralised style of working of the party under Modi-Shah duo, there is suspense over allocation of key portfolios.
The Prime Minister might also have to look for new faces for ministries of finance and external affairs and there can be a change of guard in the ministry of home affairs as well.
The BJP could not repeat its spectacular performance of North and Western India in southern states. The party could not win a single seat in three southern states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. However, it showed its strength by winning 25 of total 28 seats in Karnataka, a traditional BJP stronghold and the party also made deep inroads in Telangana politics by winning 4 of 17 seats in the state.
Though the BJP did not do well in several southern states but that does not mean that these states will not be given fair representation in new Modi government. The party is keen to expand its base in these states by inducting ministers so that it can send right signals to its fledgling support base.
Ideological battleground in South
Kerala, God’s own country, is a serious ideological challenge for the saffron party. The state has seen gory political violence between the cadres of ruling CPM and the RSS cadre, the BJP’s ideological fountainhead. Though the BJP failed to win a single seat in the state but at least three leaders from the state are in the fray for a ministerial birth in the new Modi cabinet.
An old RSS hand, Kummanam Rajsekharan (66) resigned from the post of governor of Mizoram to contest the Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram seat. Kummanam was also BJP’s Kerala state President from 2015 to 18 before he was appointed Mizoram governor. He lost the election to former UPA minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor by nearly one lakh votes.
There is a buzz in the party that he may be accommodated in the next government as he resigned from the post of governor to contest election in Kerala at the instance of the party leadership.
Former bureaucrat and Rajya Sabha member KJ Alphons is minister of state in the tourism and culture ministry. Sixty-five years old Alphons party’s Christian face from the state. A 1979 batch IAS officer, KJ Alphons joined the BJP in 2011 and he is the second BJP leader from Kerala to become union minister after former union minister O Rajagopal.
Rajagopal was minister of state for defence and parliamentary affairs, among others, in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government between 1999 to 2004. Rajagopal is the first ever BJP MLA in the state of Kerala, having won the Nemom assembly seat in 2016 assembly election.
Sixty years old V Muraleedharan is BJP Rajya Sabha member elected from state of Maharashtra. An RSS worker, Muraleedharan started his political career with BJP’s student union wing ABVP in CPM’s stronghold Kannur, the town that has seen unprecedented political violence between CPM and RSS cadre in the recent times.
Muraleedharan rose to become BJP’s state president for five years from 2010 to 2015.
These three leaders, Kummamam Rajasekharan, KJ Alphons and V Muraleedharan are top three contenders from Kerala for a ministerial birth in the new Modi cabinet.