Pinarayi Vijayan sworn in as Kerala chief minister

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Thiruvanananthapuram | Updated: May 26, 2016 8:10:31 AM

Left Democratic Front leader Pinarayi Vijayan has taken oath as the Kerala chief minister with 19 ministers.

Left Democratic Front leader Pinarayi Vijayan has taken oath as the Kerala chief minister with 19 ministers. The 40,000 people capacity central stadium was filled with Left sympathizers, film stars and political celebrities, including former prime minister Deve Gowda, former chief minister Oommen Chandy, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechuri and senior BJP leader O Rajagopal. Front page advertisements on most national newspapers have announced on Wednesday morning that the Pinarayi government was “committed to run Kerala into a truly God’s own country” that the state’s tourism destination branding tagline claims. The other key promises that the new government has made through its first ad campaign are safety for women and minorities, welfare of students and the elderly and control of inflation.

“People have pinned high aspirations on our government and we intend to live up to them, in all earnestness,” he told FE, on the eve of taking charge.

What the business community in the tourism-centric state is keenly watching for is the liquor policy of the new government. The previous Congress-led UDF government’s liquor-restriction policy that led to closure of more than 400 bars had caused a dent to the tourism revenues. The new LDF government’s view has been that closure of bars only led to higher sale in retail liquor shops, large-scale hoarding and illegal sale of hooch. The new finance minister Dr TM Thomas Isaac has hinted that there will be a review of liquor policy.

Vijayan, who had been eclipsed by his 92-year old CPI(M) colleague and former chief minister VS Achuthanandan, during the last stretch of his political career, is known for his grip and command over the party cadres. He is currently a member of CPI(M) politburo. He was secretary of the Kerala State Committee of the CPI(M) from 1998 to 2015. He was the longest serving secretary in the annals of CPI(M). Vijayan had also served in the government of Kerala as minister of electric power and co-operatives from 1996 to 1998. He won a seat in the May 2016 Kerala Assembly election as the CPI(M) candidate for Dharmadom constituency.

It has been a litmus test proof of the 72-year old Vijayan’s growing public appeal, matching that of Achuthandan, that a multitude close to 50,000 marched from the various parts of Kerala to the state capital to witness his swearing-in ceremony. Malayalam movie stars like Innocent (MP from Irinjalakkuda),  Mammooty, Madhu, KPAC Lalitha, Mukesh MLA and Dileep too attended the function.The new chief minister has also been cautious about soothing the ruffled feathers within his party fraternity. After Yechuri appeased him of a senior advisory position in the government, the former chief minister Achuthanandan also attended the function, along with another senior left leader 96-year-old KR Gowriamma, to witness Kerala governor P Sathasivam administering the oath of office to Vijayan.

Of the 19 ministers in the Pinarayi Vijayan government, eight MLAs have made their maiden entry to the state cabinet. There are 12 ministers from CPI(M), four from CPI and one each from Congress (S), NCP and JD(S). CPI(M)-led left Democratic Front (LDF) came to power with 91 seats in the 140 member Assembly, while UDF won 47 seats. For the first time in the history of Kerala Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party opened its account winning one seat.

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