Thiruvananthapuram: Barely five months into its five-year term, Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government on Friday suffered a major setback as industry minister E.P. Jayarajan had to step down after facing a volley of nepotism allegations.
The decision came after a meeting of the Communist Party of India — Marxist (CPM) state secretariat. Jayarajan had few backers in the secretariat, which meant he had no other option but to exit the cabinet.
Jayarajan had inducted relatives into senior positions in the Kerala State Industrial Enterprises and Kerala Clays and Ceramics Products in his capacity as industry minister. Both companies are state-owned enterprises.
The CPM politburo had earlier left the decision on Jayarajan to the state unit. But well before the state secretariat met, Jayarajan’s resignation was seen as imminent. The CPM’s key partner in the LDF coalition, the CPI, had also taken a stand against the industry minister.
The CPM could not protect Jayarajan anymore in the context of its own leaders having admonished United Democratic Front ministers K.M. Mani and K. Babu for having held on to their portfolios even when they faced vigilance investigations into alleged corruption.
Jayarajan was seen as the second in command in the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet, and held the key portfolio of industry, besides also being the sports minister.
His dishonourable exit comes after a brazen beginning to his job as minister when he accused Olympian athlete Anju Bobby George of having wasted public money in flying down from Bengaluru to Kerala in her capacity as the state sports council president. The allegation prompted her to resign.
Jayarajan later embarrassed himself and the government when he could not identify legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. To a journalist’s question about Ali when the boxer passed away, Jayarajan promptly offered condolences, taking Ali to be a sportsman from Kerala.
From then on, he had to bear the brunt of social media trolling, and just as he was putting that behind him came the allegations of nepotism that cost him his own chair.