Kerala: OR Kelu set to take oath as Minister for Welfare of SC, ST

54-year-old Kelu is a CPIM(M) leader from the tribal community in Wayanad and MLA from Mananthavady.
OR Kelu
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Communist Party of India (Marxists)[CPI(M)] leader from the tribal community in Wayanad OR Kelu is set to take charge as Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes replacing K Radhakrishnan, who was elected as a Member of Parliament from Alathur in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. 54-year-old Kelu is a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Mananthavady.

Radhakrishnan was the Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, Parliamentary Affairs and Devaswom.

However, OR Kelu has not been given the Devaswom portfolio, which has been raised.  

Speaking to the Reporter TV, a Malayalam news channel OR Kelu responded to the criticism.“I am entering the ministry for the first time, and I am more familiar with the issues concerning the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as I have worked in that area. So I can handle that ministry. When it comes to the Devaswom ministry I think, it is better if someone with more experience handles that. Similarly with Parliamentary Affairs as well,” he added.

As per reports, the Kerala Chief Minister's Office has sought the convenience of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for the oath-taking ceremony of Kelu on Sunday afternoon. Moreover, the Devaswom department will be given to cooperation minister VN Vasavan and Parliamentary Affairs has been transferred to excise minister MB Rajesh.

In 2021, when the second LDF government under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan, handed the Devaswom ministry to Radhakrishnan, it was hailed as a historic decision, as a Dalit minister was going to handle the department. 

In September 2023 Radhakrishnan spoke about caste discrimination he had faced at a Malabar Devaswom Board-owned temple in Kannur, even as a minister in the Devaswom. It became a huge discourse in the state about internalised casteism. 

Before tendering his resignation, the last order Radhakrishnan signed was to stop using the word ‘colony’ to describe settlements of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities in official records. 

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