Backwards to the fore in Pinarayi Cabinet

KPM Basheer | | Updated on: Jan 20, 2018

Fourteen members — three-fourths — of the 19-member Left Democratic Front Cabinet headed by Pinarayi Vijayan, which took office on Wednesday, is made up of members hailing from the Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and minorities.

And half of the new Cabinet’s 14 ‘Hindu’ members — the Communists are against ‘identity politics’, religious or otherwise — hail from the backward Ezhava caste. There are two Muslims and three Christians.

This is a marked deviation from the past practice of the UDF, and to some extent the LDF, of balancing representation of the State’s three major religions as well as among various Hindu castes.

The UDF, because of the very nature of its coalition, had all along been very particular about striking such a balance and also representing geographical interests.

The new Cabinet’s composition has upset the balance in the traditional geographical representation of the State’s three regions and sometimes of all 14 districts.

Even in the past, the LDF had not bothered about ensuring a fine balance, though most sections generally got representation.

Ezhavas in power

This fact that seven ministers, including Chief Minister Vijayan, hail from the Ezhava background, in a way undermines the very rationale for the formation of the Ezhava party Bharateeya Dharma Jana Sena.

Vellappally Natesan, General Secretary of the Ezhava organisation Sree Narayana Dharama Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), had launched the BDJS five months before the Assembly election, arguing that both the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF had let the Ezhavas down.

Natesan’s main target was the CPI(M), which the majority of the Ezhavas traditionally voted for. He contended that the CPI(M) always used the Ezhavas as a vote bank, but never cared to give them power.

The BJP had, in a strategic move, taken the Ezhava party on board the NDA and allotted 37 seats to it. This was aimed at an Ezhava vote swing in favour of the BJP.

It was also expected that the BDJS would eat heavily into CPI(M) votes. The UDF had hoped that an Ezhava vote swing would damage the LDF and hence benefit the UDF.

This was not to be. The LDF was voted to power with a thumping majority. None of the 37 BDJS candidates could win, while the BJP secured only one seat in the Assembly. However, by piggybacking on the BDJS, the BJP increased its vote share across the State.

Published on May 25, 2016
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