Journalist-turned-politician Veena George will replace KK Shailaja as Keralas health minister in the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government’s second term, news reports suggested on May 19.
Shailaja, who earned international acclaim for her handling of the Nipah outbreak in 2018 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as Kerala’s health minister in the outgoing cabinet was dropped and instead chosen as the ruling partys whip in the Legislative Assembly. The decision to not retain her in the new state Cabinet has triggered widespread criticism.
The Chief Minister and new ministers will take oath on  May 20. CPI (M)-led LDF had swept the April 6 polls, winning 99 of the 140 seats 99 of the 140 seats.
READ: Dropping KK Shailaja from Kerala’s new Cabinet state committee’s decision: CPI(M) central leadership
The new Health Minister George, 45 began her political career as an activist of Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI(M).
A legislator from Aranmula, George, who was as journalist and news anchor in various Malayalam news channels before jumping to politics. She became MLA from Aranmula seat for the first time in 2016  and was re-elected from the same constituency in Pathanamthitta district with a margin of 19,003 votes in the April 6 assembly polls.
George is a rank holder of MSc (Physics) and BEd, according to a PTI report. Her husband Dr George Joseph, a higher secondary school teacher, has served as secretary of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
A church official said Church head Baselios Marthoma Paulose II telephoned George to congratulate her on her achievement.
Besides George, two other women will also become ministers in the new government. While CPI(M) has nominated  R Bindu, wife of CPI(M) acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan, CPI has selected its senior leader and Chadayamangalam MLA J Chinchu Rani to represent the party in the cabinet.
First-time MLA from Beypore seat and CM Vijayan’s son-in-law PA Mohamed Riyas will be the minister for Public Works Department (PWD), reports said. Among others, KN Balagopal is the new Finance minister while P Rajeev gets industries portfolio. MV Govindan will be the new Local Self Government minister while V Sivankutty gets Education portfolio. Saji Cherian gets Fisheries, VN Vasavan Excise and R Bindu Higher Education in the new Cabinet.
(With PTI inputs)

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