Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan is being lambasted for picking his son-in-law PA Mohammed Riyas as a minister in his cabinet. Reportedly, he will be given the departments of PWD, Tourism, and Youth welfare in the new Kerala cabinet.
However, the decision did not go down well with many in the state, especially the opposition leaders. The BJP state president K Surendran has labelled his new team as a “kitchen cabinet”. Surendran, while indirectly referencing the induction of the CM’s son-in-law PA Mohammed Riyas into the Cabinet, accused CPI(M) of propagating nepotism. He went further and criticised Vijayan for not providing representation for Kasargod and Wayanad in the Cabinet.
Nepotism = Pinarayi = CPI(M).#kitchencabinet
— K Surendran (@surendranbjp) May 18, 2021
Mohammed Riyas started his political career as a student. He held the position of national joint secretary of DYFI, which is the youth wing of CPI(M) and was appointed DYFI’s president in February 2017. Riyas had allegedly led ‘beef cooking’ protests in 2017 after the Centre sought to regulate the purchase and sale of cattle to ensure adherence to safety and hygiene practices. He had also unsuccessfully contested for the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat in 2019.
Marrying Vijayan’s daughter Veena Vijayan in 2020 was the only political achievement for Mohammed Riyas before becoming a cabinet minister. Many conservative Hindus looked at their marriage as love jihad though no one raised it seriously. The marriage, however, was portrayed as having a social message of unity between the opposing religions.
Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter Veena to marry DYFI National President Muhammed Riyas.
Love Jihad right at the very top.
— Indu Makkal Katchi (Offl) (@Indumakalktchi) June 9, 2020
Before his marriage to Vijayan’s daughter, Riyas was married to Dr Sameeha Saithalvi. A qualified doctor, Saithalvi was not allowed to work after her marriage. She has alleged an abusive relationship which included the demand for dowry and violent beatings. She also accused Riyas of attempting to kidnap their sons. Even though they have split up after the divorce in 2015, the case of domestic violence was still being fought in court until a few days before the marriage of Riyas and Veena in 2020.
Mohammed Riyas and Veena Vijayan’s wedding was attended by a select group of 50 guests. Among the same was Riyas’ cousin Mohammed Hashim, a man who was implicated in the murder of RSS worker Ottapilavu Suresh Babu 24 years ago. Though the High Court had acquitted him, he was convicted by the supreme court in 2017 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He was granted parole to attend the wedding at the CM resident. Incidentally, CM was holding the home portfolio.
Mohammed Hashim, murderer of RSS Karyakarta Shri. Suresh Babu, & convicted by Supreme Court for the same, attended the marriage of @CMOKerala Pinarayi Vijayan's daughter at Chief Minister's official residence. He was one among the 50 special invitees. Shocking! pic.twitter.com/DPAovrF13I
— Sobha Surendran (@SobhaBJP) June 15, 2020
With the track record of Mohammed Riyas, many would question the judgement for Pinarayi Vijayan considering that the only thing that can be considered as merit to Riyas is the fact that he is the son-in-law of the CM of Kerala. To many, this will be seen as a clear example of nepotism in politics.