In a major setback for the ruling CPI(M), Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan resigned on Friday over charges of nepotism and favoritism. He allegedly had appointed his family members as heads of public sector undertakings in the state.  

The opposition parties have demanded that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should also own up moral responsibility and resign, as his relatives were also among those appointed. LDF alliance partner CPI had also demanded resignation of the minister. The controversy has led to the loss of face for Pinarayi whose election motto was ‘a government free of corruption’.

After the news came out there was huge pressure on the CPI(M) to act against minister. The government tried to bide its time by ordering a vigilance probe. But it is believed that the party put its foot down and wanted the minister to resign. Political observers say the controversy had driven a wedge between the party and the government. CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said Jayarajan admitted before the party state committee that he had commited a mistake by appointing close relatives.

Jayarajan, the controversial leader from Kannur, was known for his faux pas. The minister has come under fire for appointments in PSUs as well as key posts in the Kerala High Court. The heads of two PSUs are members of Jayarajan’s own family, while at least two others are closely related to top leaders of the CPI(M).

Jayarajan appointed the following associates:

1. KP Sudheer Nambiar: Son of Jayarajan’s sister-in-law. Appointed managing director of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises.

2. Deepthi Nishad: Daughter-in-law of Jayarajan’s brother. Appointed general manager of Clay and Ceramics Limited.

3. T Naveen: Nephew of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s wife. Appointed the standing counsel for the State Pollution Control Board.

4. Jeeva Anadan: Son of CPM state secretariat member Anathalavattam Anandan. Appointed managing director of Kinfra (Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation) Apparel Park.

5. Sooraj Ravindran: Grandson of former CPM chief minister EK Nayanar. Appointed managing director of Kinfra Film and Video Park.

6. Other names include those closely associated with CPM leaders: Nagaraj Narayanan, Unnikrishnan Nair, Suresh Babu, Regha Mohanan, ML Sajeevan and MS Breez.