April 28th marks a historic moment for the Kerala government. In a first, a shadow cabinet will be sworn in to monitor the activities of the current Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government.
In many other governments, especially in the West, a shadow cabinet has often been employed, with positions that reflect the same positions in the actual government, for example, a shadow finance minister to monitor the actual finance minister.
While this role is typically taken up by the Opposition Party, in Kerala it will be done by non-governmental organisations and environmental activists, according to a report by Scroll.
Keeping in line with Kerala’s progressive stance, which is well-known across the country, the cabinet will be inclusive, with 50% of the positions reserved for women.
According to a report by Deshabhimani, positions have also been reserved for transgenders, visually challenged individuals, and for those with disabilities.
Funds to run this campaign will come from the people itself, says Anil Jose, coordinator of the program, adding that it will be for the people.
In a report by the Deshabhimani, Anil mentions several organisations who will be taking part in this shadow cabinet. He mentions names like Voters Alliance, Human Wellness Study Center, and Gandhian Collective among others, who have promised to take part in the ministry.
The prospective candidates are currently undergoing training to familiarise themselves with the state budget, and proper conduct once they are holding office.
According to Jose, the Centre for Development Studies and the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad are some of the organisations that have offered to help train the new ministers with workshops. The shadow cabinet, which consists of 19 ministers, will each keep a close eye on the working of the government.
Now that the current government will be kept under a close eye, the Opposition should be happy, right?
Well, the fact is, that this shadow cabinet will be operating without influence from the Opposition. The point, according to Jose, is to keep the interest of the people at the forefront.
“Both the ruling party and the Opposition might oppose our existence, but we are not bothered,” he says.
This isn’t the first time a shadow ministry has emerged in India. Goa had previously constituted a shadow assembly run by an NGO, Gen Next in 2015, while the Opposition in Maharashtra formed a shadow ministry in 2005.
Shadow governments can be useful in showcasing more than just a leading government’s view. In a country like India, that has such an incredibly diverse population, this can be beneficial in bringing relevant issues to the forefront. It will also make sure that claims made by a ruling party can be closely followed up and monitored for progress.
It remains to be seen whether this shadow ministry will be able to fulfil what it was created for. However, it is refreshing to see people-oriented organisations taking an active interest in propagating the wishes of the people!