Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 28 (IANS) Kerala was cheering as the state got the highest ever representation in the union cabinet. The number of ministers from the state went up from six to eight after Sunday's reshuffle.
Among those sworn in were former undersecretary general of the UN, Shashi Tharoor, and five-time Congress Lok Sabha member Kodikunnil Suresh.
For Tharoor, it's a return to being minister of state. Two and a half years ago he was forced to resign from the cabinet over allegations of a conflict of interest in his promotion of the IPL Kochi cricket team, which was linked to Sunanda Pushkar, the woman he married after stepping down as minister.
For 50-year-old Suresh, his elevation as minister comes as reward for being in the close company of Defence Minister A.K. Antony ever since he became a politician in the early eighties.
Kerala has 20 Lok Sabha members and nine Rajya Sabha members.
The six ministers already in the council of ministers from the state are: Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution K.V.Thomas, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, Minister of State for Home Mulapally Ramachandran, and Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal.
Speaking to reporters here Sunday, state congress chief Ramesh Chennithala said that the induction of two new ministers from Kerala would prove hugely beneficial for the party in the next general elections.
"We are all happy for Suresh because this is the first time a dalit from the state has become a member of the union cabinet, after former president K.R. Narayanan. With regard to Tharoor, he is a known national and international figure; this is going to be very good for the state," Chennithala said.
Incidentally, with the latest reshuffle, all the four who represent Alappuzha district - Antony, Ravi, Venugopal and Suresh - have become ministers.
But former CPI M minister and senior party legislator G. Sudhakaran, who also hails from Alappuzha, said the reshuffle was just a little juggling before the next general elections.
"Who does not know that a minister of state in Delhi has no powers? Look at Venugopal. A lot of noise was created when he was sworn in, but what has he done since? Even Antony in the second UPA government has not been able to do much. So this is nothing but one little juggle before the next general elections," Sudhakaran said.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)