The UDF ministry in Kerala headed by Oommen Chandy was today expanded with the induction of 13 more ministers -- nine from Congress, three from IUML and one from Kerala Congress (M). With today's exercise, the ministry strength rose to 20. Chandy and six other ministers, each representing the UDF constituents, assumed office on May 18, after the coalition unseated the CPI(M)-led LDF ministry in the assembly polls.
The Congress nominees sworn-in by Governor R S Gavai at the Raj Bhavan included former ministers Aryadam Muhamed,Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan, Adoor Prakash and A P Anil Kumar. Others Congress nominees who joined the cabinet are lone woman representative P K Jayalakshmi, K C Joseph, K Babu,KPCC treasurer C N Balakrishnan and V S Sivakumar.Jayalakshmi, a Rahul Gandhi nominee, is the first minister from a tribal community in Kerala. The IUML members sworn-in today were former ministers M K Muneer and V K Ibraim Kunju and P K Abdurabb.
Kerala Congress leader P J Joseph, who was part of the LDF for long but dissolved his party and joined Kerala Congress (M) last year, returned to the cabinet after a gap of two years. The 'unilateral' announcement of IUML yesterday that the party would have five ministers in the cabinet, though one of them to be included at a later stage, had left the Congress unhappy.
Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala had said that the question of parliamentary affairs ministers, for which IUML has staked claim as the fifth cabinet berth, would be decided only after collective discussions.
IUML, the second largest component in the coalition, however, made it clear that it would not go back on its demand for five ministerial positions. The leaders of the UDF constituents who assumed office along with Chandy last week were P K Kunhalikutty (IUML), K M Mani (Kerala Cong-M), K P Mohanan (SJD), T M Jacob (Kerla Congress-J), K B Ganesh Kumar (Kerala Congress-B) and Shibu Baby John (RSP-B). PTI