Slipping Grades: Looking at the performance of Kerala's ministers

To conduct a thorough evaluation of the performance of all 21 ministers, TNIE engaged an independent panel of experts.
The panel rated each minister on a scale of 0-10, across five key parameters: proficiency, responsiveness, accessibility, professionalism and image credibility.
The panel rated each minister on a scale of 0-10, across five key parameters: proficiency, responsiveness, accessibility, professionalism and image credibility.

As the LDF government completes its third year in office today, it's time for an appraisal of the Pinarayi 2.0 cabinet. To conduct a thorough evaluation of the performance of all 21 ministers, TNIE engaged an independent panel of experts. The panel rated each minister on a scale of 0-10, across five key parameters: proficiency, responsiveness, accessibility, professionalism and image-credibility. Here are the results.

Pinarayi Vijayan

Chief Minister, Home & Vigilance

The third year of the Pinarayi 2.0 government has been quite a turbulent one. It was a journey from one controversy to another though a few departments did some decent work. The home department-directly under the CM-has been getting brickbats over a slew of issues. While the Keraleeyam initiative was appreciated for its novelty, the CM's reluctance to distance himself from the violence perpetrated by DYFI during the Nava Kerala Sadas was indeed a sore point. The recent payout allegations against his daughter put the CPM strongman on the back foot. Pinarayi, however, succeeded in gamering national attention with his government approaching SC against the governor and the central government, thereby becoming the fulcrum of Centre versus States fight. He is facing his biggest crisis of credibility and image.

PROFICIENCY - 6.4

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.3

ACCESSIBILITY - 2.4

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.4

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 3.2

Total Score: 4.34/10

2023 SCORE - 5.76

R Bindu

Higher Education, Social Justice

The minister spearheaded a slew of reforms in the higher education sector through the implementation of the recommendations of three commissions constituted for the purpose. However, Bindu has faced allegations of interference in vice- chancellor appointments and the functioning of university bodies, often leading to confrontations with the governor. Can do a lot given the scope of her ministry but is restricted by politics.

PROFICIENCY - 4.3

RESPONSIVENESS - 5

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.6

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.1

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.3

Total Score: 4.66/10

2023 SCORE - 5.7

MB Rajesh

Local Self-Government, Excise

He is holding two departments with huge potential for controversies but Rajesh has managed them without much hiccups. The recently Launched Malinya Muktham Nava Keralam campaign has the ambitious target of making Kerala a garbage-free state by March 2025. But it requires a lot more coordinated efforts to achieve that. The new liquor policy, which is getting finishing touches, is expected to be more liberal and in tune with the times. A minister who holds on his own.

PROFICIENCY - 5.8

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.3

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.8

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 5.9

Total Score: 5.6/10

2023 SCORE: 6.3

Veena George

Health, Family Welfare

Once considered inexperienced, Veena has made efforts to grow into her role but falls short on many parameters. Though controversies and lapses still bog medical colleges, she was able to put up a better defence. When a false bribery charge came up against her staff, she successfully deflected it. But she is still not as proactive as the ministry she handles needs her to be.

PROFICIENCY - 4.4

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.5

ACCESSIBILITY - 3.8

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.4

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.5

Total Score: 4.32/10

2023 SCORE: 5.28

P Rajeeve

Industries, Law and Coir

The industries ministry under P Rajeeve has been on a mission to woo investments. If the draft logistics policy aims to attract investments in cold chain logistics, agro-processing, and spices, the department is also tapping companies to the Campus Industrial Park programme which would nurture students and make them Industry-ready. One area that Rajeeve needs to focus more is the coir sector, which is crying for attention and support. One of the better performing ministers.

PROFICIENCY - 5.9

RESPONSIVENESS - 6

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 5.2

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.7

Total Score: 5.6/10

2023 SCORE: 6.76

A K Saseendran

Forest, WildLife Protection

He has been in the eye of a storm throughout the past year. A rise in incidents of human-animal conflicts and failure to effectively deal with them have given the impression of a leadership failure. And there have been plenty of goof-ups in his department, making it a laughing stock. One of the senior-most ministers in the cabinet is also its weakest when it comes to performance.

PROFICIENCY - 4.4

RESPONSIVENESS - 4

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.1

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 3.6

Total Score: 4.26/10

2023 SCORE: 5.34

KN Balagopal

Finance

Though there was no dearth of efforts on his part, ever since he took over Thomas Isaac, to tide over the acute financial crisis that the state has been dealing with, the results were not very impressive. The tussle between the Centre and the state over financial matters still continues. Though some of his decisions and proposals have been appredated, he does come across as someone who is mostly clueless on what to do despite having good intentions. Good but not good enough considering the portfolio he handles.

PROFICIENCY - 5.9

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.8

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.8

PROFESSIONALISM - 5.2

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.7

Total Score: 5.48/10

2023 SCORE: 6.48

GR Anil

Food and Civil Supplies

Minister appeared clueless when there was no adequate supply of essential goods in Supplyco outlets for several months. Despite giving promises that Onam kit will be provided, only a few yellow card holders got it. Several months have elapsed since the shortage of essential goods was reported, but nothing has been done to address the issue. Has not lived up to the requirements of the portfolio he handles.

PROFICIENCY - 5.2

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.3

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.8

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.6

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.7

Total Score: 4.92/10

2023 SCORE: 5.7

Saji Cherian

Culture, Fisheries

Though Saji Cherian has not been able to make a mark as a Culture Minister, he has been able to make some impact in the fisheries sector with new markets and fish farming initiatives. But he needs to do a lot more to help the traditional fishermen who are the worst victims of climatic vagaries. Has a tendency to wade into needless controversies and that overshadows his performance.

PROFICIENCY - 5

RESPONSIVENESS - 5

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.5

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.6

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.2

Total Score: 4.86/10

2023 SCORE: 6.06

V Sivankutty

General Education, Labour

He is one minister who has surprised many. He has earned praise for bringing in the much needed efficiency in distribution of text books and uniform material in schools. Timely conduct of exams and declaration of results too have earned him brownie points. However, complaints over the implementation of the noon-meal scheme and lack of foresight in Plus Two admission planning have earned him flak. Good but needs to be better.

PROFICIENCY - 4.7

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.8

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 5.5

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.4

Total Score: 5.32/10

2023 SCORE: 5.72

K Krishnankutty

Power

This year's summer was an acid test for the minister, but the crisis was managed effectively. The state did not have to go through any major power cuts despite the fact that one of the highest power demands was recorded during the season. Over the last two years, 21 new electricity sub-stations have been commissioned, including one 400 KV substation and six 220 KV substations. They were crucial in helping meet the power demand. Responsiveness and performance have helped up his ratings.

PROFICIENCY - 6

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.2

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.8

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.8

Total Score: 5.4/10

2023 SCORE: 6.1

K Rajan

Revenue

To his credit, he has ensured that several land laws which were ineffective during the last four decades were disentangled and made useful for the people. Distribution of pattayam land, digital resurvey and land assignment bill earned him accolades. However, the Revenue continues to be one of the most corrupt departments. He has the image and mandate, but lacks resolve to fix the mess.

PROFICIENCY - 5.5

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.4

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.5

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.9

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.5

Total Score: 4.96/10

2023 SCORE: 6.12

PA Mohamed Riyas

Tourism, Public Works

Riyas has always been under the media lens due to two reasons-one, he is the son-in-law of the CM and two, he holds two main portfolios of PWD and Tourism. He did come up with a slew of initiatives - heli-tourism, to name one - but back-to-back floating bridge accidents proved a setback. The payout row involving his wife's firm too put him under the shadow. The second minister in the family has proved to be smart and adept but falls short on image and performance.

PROFICIENCY - 4.8

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.2

ACCESSIBILITY - 4.8

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.6

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 3.2

Total Score: 4.52/10

2023 SCORE: 5.84

K Radhakrishnan

SC/ST Welfare, Devaswom

He continues his efforts to ensure foreign education for SC/ST students and empower the community through welfare schemes. However, as Devaswom minister, he faced criticism for the lapses during the last Sabarimala season. The Devaswom withdrew permission granted to Ayyappa Seva Samithi for Annadanam and volunteer service along the trekking path. Inexperienced people with party affiliation were deployed for volunteer service which created chaos. Devotees had to wait for up to 15 hours in queue for darshan and many were forced to abandon pilgrimage midway. He still remains the most credible minister in the cabinet.

PROFICIENCY - 6.5

RESPONSIVENESS - 6.2

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.8

PROFESSIONALISM - 6

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 6.1

Total Score: 6.32/10

2023 SCORE: 7.24

Ramachandran Kadannappally

Museum, Archaeology & Archives

Another second-half entrant, he has largely remained in the shadow so far. The decision to take away the key port ministry reveals the CM doesn't trust him to deal with the important department, especially considering it deals with the Vizhinjam port. Though he is one more minister to make up the numbers, he has done decently in the last five months since he took over.

PROFICIENCY - 4.8

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.6

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.6

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.8

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 5.5

Total Score: 5.26/10

2023 SCORE: 4.86(Ahammed Devarkovil)

Roshy Augustine

Irrigation, Water Resources

Roshy Augustine's recent interventions, including the revival of the second Kuttanad package with Rs 100 crore worth of works, and water supply in rural and coastal areas, have been much appreciated. His image as an accessible and down-to-earth minister does contribute to his overall ranking.

PROFICIENCY - 5.2

RESPONSIVENESS - 5.9

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.6

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.7

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 5.4

Total Score: 5.56/10

2023 SCORE: 5.72

J Chinchurani

Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development

Chinchurani has been more proactive in the last one year. Mobile veterinary services initiated by her have been a relief to farmers. One of her drawbacks is that she is yet to make her presence felt. Her portfolio has a lot of potential but she doesn't seem to have realised that.

PROFICIENCY - 4.4

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.7

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.2

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.3

Total Score: 4.56/10

2023 SCORE: 5.56

V Abdurahiman

Sports, Waqf, Minorities

He came up with the first-ever Sports Policy in the state. Construction of sports complexes is in progress in eight districts. For the betterment of minorities through different scholarships, a total of Rs 20 crore had been spent in 2023-24. However, he is yet another minister in this cabinet who does not seem to be proactive.

PROFICIENCY - 4.4

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.5

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.2

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.4

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4

Total Score: 4.5/10

2023 SCORE: 5.36

KB Ganesh Kumar

Transport

Making a second-half entry (December 2023) into the Cabinet, his term began with a controversy. His decision to procure fossil fuel-powered buses in place of electric buses was met with opposition, forcing him to reconsider. The decision to make changes in the driving licence test too was met with protests. But in a brief time, he has been able to make his presence felt and comes across a minister full of ideas.

PROFICIENCY - 6.8

RESPONSIVENESS - 6

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.3

PROFESSIONALISM - 6.2

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 5.1

Total Score: 6.08/10

2023 SCORE: 5.62 (Antony Raju)

V N Vasavan

Co-operation, Port, Registration

Scams in cooperative sector continue to hurt the credibility of the minister and the government. On a positive note, the cooperative department has increased the investment guarantee (deposit amount protected) in cooperative institutions from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. He could also implement uniform software in Kerala Bank. Could have done a lot more and is undone by own image.

PROFICIENCY - 5.3

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.5

ACCESSIBILITY - 5.7

PROFESSIONALISM - 4.7

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 3.6

Total Score: 4.76/10

2023 SCORE: 5.82

P Prasad

Agriculture

Despite being a farmer himself, Prasad has not been able to win the trust of the community. Farmers are going through one of the worst crises and there have been a slew of farmer suicides too. The paddy farmers were denied payments for more than six months after procuring their produce. A section of officials allege the department has come to a standstill. Though data bank on agriculture land is available, the ministry has failed to address the issues pertaining to it. A wasted opportunity despite having the potential.

PROFICIENCY - 5.8

RESPONSIVENESS - 4.4

ACCESSIBILITY - 6.6

PROFESSIONALISM - 5

IMAGE & CREDIBILITY - 4.9

Total Score: 5.34/10

2023 SCORE: 6.04

Our Panelists

Dr Nirmala Padmanabhan, Academician

A keen follower of socio-economic Kerala, Nirmala was associate professor, Post Graduate Department and Research Centre in Economics at St Teresa's College, Ernakulam. She also writes columns in newspapers.

Dr G Gopakumar, Political scientist

Former Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod, Dr G Gopakumar is a leading political scientist and psephologist. He specialises in the areas of International Relations, Comparative Politics and Indian Politics. He had also served as the Director General of the Institute of Parliamentary Affairs.

Saritha Varma, Journalist

Former journalist with Financial Express. She is a writer, columnist and social commentator. Journalist for almost four decades, of which 28 years were as financial journalist. As a development joumalist, she has reported from Vietnam, Bangkok, London, Krabi Island and Sri Lanka.

Joe A Scaria, Financial journalist

Senior journalist with four decades experience. Was faculty member at the Institute of Journalism, Thiruvananthapuram. Author of books 'Fourth Estate to Rubber Estate', Resignation Letter of a Journalist' and 'A Nilambur Experiment' (Co-authored with Jacob George). YouTuber @JeometricView.

Scores are an average of the marks awarded by each expert on each of the parameters.

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