Dropping former Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja from the new Cabinet was a “political and organisational” decision and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will not reconsider it, the party’s Acting Secretary A Vijayaraghavan said on Thursday, PTI reported.

Shailaja had won praise for her handling of the Covid-19 and Nipah outbreaks in Kerala. In the state elections, she had also won from her constituency with a record margin of 60,963 votes. Social media users, including politicians, expressed anger over her exclusion from the Kerala Cabinet on Tuesday.

Amid the criticism, Vijayaraghavan said the party took the decision after holding talks with everyone, Mathrubhumi reported. “This is not Shailaja’s victory,” he said. “Shailaja became the best minister with the efforts of a group of people. EP Jayarajan, TP Ramakrishnan and [Thomas] Isaac were also best ministers in Kerala,” he added.

Another CPI(M) leader, MV Jayarajan, also defended the party’s decision not to include Shailaja in the new Cabinet, The Hindu reported. He said that leaders such as Isaac and KT Jaleel, who had done exemplary work, were also dropped from the Cabinet.

Jayarajan said that the CPI(M) is led by a movement and not an individual. He added that an individual is a symbol of the movement.

On Tuesday, Shailaja had told NDTV that it was the party’s decision to include all fresh faces in the cabinet. “According to that decision, I also decided to quit,” she had said. Shailaja was nominated as the CPI(M)’s chief whip in the next Assembly.

The Left Democratic Front retained power in the Kerala Assembly elections which were held on April 6. The results were declared on May 2.

Pinarayi Vijayan will be sworn-in as chief minister again on May 20. The new faces in his Cabinet will include Democratic Youth Federation of India National President Mohammed Riyaz, MV Govindan, KN Balagopal, K Radhakrishnan, P Rajeev, and VN Vasavan.

Also read: Kerala’s former Health Minister KK Shailaja dropped from new Cabinet