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Vijayan enters record books for being sworn-in as Kerala CM

Thiruvananthapuram: It was a day that members and supporters of the Left Democratic Front were eagerly awaiting since the results for the April 6 Assembly elections came out on May 2, as Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday took oath as Kerala Chief Minister for a second consecutive term, breaking an over four-decade pattern of alternating governments.

The LDF comfortably retained power, winning a record 99 seats in the 140-member Assembly and leaving the Congress-led united Democratic Front, which was hopeful of returning to power, with only 41.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan administered the oath of office to Vijayan and 20 of his cabinet colleagues at a function at the Central Stadium here.

The venue, spanning around 80,000 square feet, and comprising an impressive dais, decked with red flowers sourced from a local flower farm, was ready since morning and across the state, people were glued to TV sets since 2 p.m. waiting for their hero Vijayan to arrive.

By 2 p.m, the around 400 invitees started arriving, with new CPI-M ministers, Saji Cherian, accompanied by his wife, and V.N. Vasavan, among the first ones to reach.

Religious leaders including bishops, Hindu seers and Muslim clerics from the city and other VVIPs were also present.

Incidentally in 2016, when Vijayan won his first victory, the stadium was filled with a record 40,000 people, cheering every Minister when their name was called, but this time, it was not to be as the Kerala High Court had directed that there should be no breaking of Covid protocols and the audience should be kept to the barest minimum.

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Vijayan to take oath on May 20, cabinet still not clear

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will finally take oath of office on May 20, when Governor Arif Mohammed Khan will read out the oath, but what’s yet to emerge is the composition of the cabinet.

When asked about this, Vijayan said, yes, talks are going on as the meeting of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is fixed for next week and after that, the decision will be made.

The swearing in has been fixed to be held outdoors at the Central Stadium, a stone’s throw from the seat of power of the State Secretariat and with Covid protocols in force, the maximum number of people who will be allowed to grace the occasion is 750.

With a week more left for the event, the last minute talks are going on and the only person who is keeping all the cards close to his chest is Vijayan, as he has now become the last word in the LDF, as he created history by becoming the first to retain power.

Vijayan is still undecided on the total number, as according to the rules including the CM’s post he can have a maximum of 21 ministers.

However in 2016 to set a mark of austerity, he decided to have 20, but this time he is in a quandary as in the 140 member assembly the LDF has won 99 seats.

In the outgoing Vijayan cabinet the CPI-M had 12 ministers and the Chief Minister’s post, the second biggest ally CPI had four and one each for Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress (S) and Janata Dal (S).

However this time the Left has given full fledged ally status to Kerala Congress (B), Indian National League (INL) besides two new allies who jumped the fence from the Congress led Opposition – Kerala Congress (Mani) and Loktantrik, Janata Dal.

Then there is Kovoor Kunjumon who has been a fellow traveller of the Left ever since he came from the UDF, ahead of the 2016 assembly polls and this time he won his fifth straight election.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said no doubt it will be Vijayan who will be the deciding factor.

Vijayan is also the final word when it comes to selecting legislators from the CPI-M and by now cries have come that K.K. Shailaja, the Health Minister in the outgoing cabinet who won with the biggest margin of over 60,000 votes, was made the deputy chief minister.

But all those who know Vijayan, know well that this will only be wishful thinking as in his scheme of things, it’s he who is the final word and does not want a successor to him, at the moment.

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Exit polls project cliffhanger for West Bengal

New Delhi: The exit poll projections of the recently concluded assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, and Puducherry have been released on Thursday.

As per the poll of exit polls, analyzed by The Times of India, West Bengal is the only state which is not throwing up a clear result – it is likely to be a cliffhanger. Some exit polls give BJP a clear majority, others Mamata Banerjee a third term, and one projected dead heat.  Mamata has clearly proved a tough cookie to crack by BJP, which had a robust campaign led by Modi and-Shah. There is no doubt though that the BJP has emerged as a key player on the political landscape of Bengal.

In Tamil Nadu, in a clear verdict, the DMK led by M.K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s son and political heir, will come to power with a big majority, dethroning the ruling AIADMK, late Jayalalitha’s party.

As per the CVoter Exit Poll for Times Now/ABP News, the BJP aligned NDA is winning Puducherry, barely retaining Assam while the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF is set to return to power for the second time in a row in Kerala.

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Pregnant elephant’s murder: This is not Indian culture, says govt

New Delhi: Days after a pregnant elephant died in Kerala after it was fed a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers, the central government on Thursday took a serious note of the incident and said that it will be investigated properly.

Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar took to Twitter to show his resentment. “Central Government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, #Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill,” he wrote.

On May 27, a 15-year-old pregnant pachyderm fell victim to an inhumane act after a pineapple filled with powerful firecrackers offered by a man exploded in her mouth when she chomped on it. It suffered serious injuries on its tongue and mouth. Later she walked into a river and waited for three days as its life was slowly snuffed out.

On Wednesday, the Environment Minister sought a report on the death of the elephant and said that stern action will be taken against the culprits.

Samuel Pachuau, the Wildlife Warden of the Silent Valley National Park, said: “It was on the 23rd of last month we came to know about this incident, when the elephant was spotted near a water source outside the National park.”

According to him, the culprits had placed firecrackers inside a pineapple which was then eaten by the wild elephant which is apparently a practice in the area to shoo away the straying wild.

“We summoned a veterinarian and later on the 25th an elephant expert David Abraham came and examined and explained to us the grim situation,” said Pachuau. From the examination, it looked like a two week wound and there were worms in the wound.

He added, “We informed the Forest officials about the prognosis and two days later the elephant died in a sitting posture in the water.”

The incident has attracted huge condemnation on social media, where the memes showed the mother elephant saying it was her fault to trust the human race, while the unborn child in her womb kept asking: “What is my fault, Ma?”

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