Government of Kerala
Overview
Established1957 (1957)
StateIndia
LeaderChief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan)
Appointed byGovernor (Arif Mohammad Khan)
Main organCabinet of Kerala
Responsible toKerala Legislative Assembly
HeadquartersThiruvananthapuram (Kerala)

The Government of Kerala, formally and commonly referred to as Kerala Government is the state government of the Indian state of Kerala. The government is led by the chief minister (currently Pinarayi Vijayan, 25 May 2016), who selects all the other ministers. The chief minister and their most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the cabinet.

Ministers of the Kerala Government are responsible to the Kerala Legislative Assembly; they make statements in the assembly and take questions from members of the assembly (the MLAs). The government is dependent on Kerala Legislative Assembly to make primary legislation. Legislative assembly elections are held every five years to elect a new assembly, unless there is a successful vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election in the assembly, in which case an election may be held sooner. After an election, the Kerala governor (currently Arif Mohammad Khan) selects as chief minister the leader of the party most likely to command the confidence of the assembly, usually by possessing a majority of MLAs.

Under the Indian constitution, executive authority lies with the governor, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the chief minister and the cabinet. In most cases the cabinet members exercise power directly as leaders of the government departments, though some cabinet positions are sinecures to a greater or lesser degree.

Executive branches

The city of Thiruvananthapuram serves as the administrative headquarters of Kerala.

Kerala Council of Ministers

See also: List of Chief Ministers of Kerala

Main article: Kerala Council of Ministers

Main article: List of Kerala Ministers

The Government Secretariat Complex in Thiruvananthapuram, which houses offices of ministers and secretaries
The Government Secretariat Complex in Thiruvananthapuram, which houses offices of ministers and secretaries

Like in other Indian states, the executive arm of the state is responsible for the day-to-day management of the state. It consists of the governor, the chief minister and the Council of Ministers. The chief minister and the council of ministers also have been appointed by the governor. The governor summons prorogues and dissolves the legislature. He can close the legislative assembly on the recommendation of the chief minister. Judiciary has been separated from the executive in Kerala like other Indian states.

The executive authority is headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala, who is the de facto head of state and is vested with most of the executive powers; the Legislative Assembly's majority party leader is appointed to this position by the Governor. The present Chief Minister is Pinarayi Vijayan, who took office on 25 May 2016. Generally, the winning party decides the chief minister. In many cases, the party focuses a chief ministerial candidate during the election.

The Council of Ministers, which answers to the Legislative Assembly, has its members appointed by the Governor; the appointments receive input from the Chief Minister. They are collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the State. Generally, the winning party and its chief minister chooses the ministers list and submit the list for the Governor's approval.

Governor

See also: Governors of Kerala

The governor is appointed by the President for a term of five years. The executive and legislative powers lie with the Chief Minister and his council of ministers, who are appointed by the governor. The governors of the states and territories of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as that of the president of India at the national level. Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment. Governors discharge all constitutional functions, such as the appointment of the chief minister, sending reports to the president about failure of constitutional machinery in a state, or with respect to issues relating to the assent to a bill passed by legislature, exercise or their own opinion.[1]

Thumbnail map of India with Kerala highlighted.
Thumbnail map of India with Kerala highlighted.

Arif Mohammad Khan is the present governor.

The governor enjoys many different types of powers:

Legislative branch

The state assembly building in Thiruvananthapuram.
The state assembly building in Thiruvananthapuram.

Main article: Kerala Legislature

The legislature comprises the governor and the legislative assembly, which is the highest political organ in the state. The governor has the power to summon the assembly or to close the same. All members of the legislative assembly are directly elected, normally once in every five years by the eligible voters who are above 18 years of age. The current assembly consists of 140 elected members and one member nominated by the governor from the Anglo-Indian community. The elected members select one of its own members as its chairman who is called the speaker. The speaker is assisted by the deputy speaker who is also elected by the members. The conduct of a meeting in the house is the responsibility of the speaker.

The main function of the assembly is to pass laws and rules. Every bill passed by the house has to be finally approved by the governor before it becomes applicable.

The normal term of the legislative assembly is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. But while a proclamation of state of emergency is in operation, the said period will be extended by Parliament by Laws for a period not exceeding one year at a time.[2]

Administrative divisions

See also: Corporations, Municipalities and Taluks of Kerala and Citizens Charter in Local Governments in Kerala

Kerala State has been divided into 14 districts, 27 revenue divisions, 14 district panchayats, 75 taluks, 152 CD blocks, 1453 revenue villages, 978 Gram panchayats, 6 corporations and 60 municipalities.[3] The business of the state government is transacted through the various secretariat departments based on the rules of business. Each department consists of secretary to the government, who is the official head of the department and such other under secretaries, junior secretaries, officers, and staffs subordinate to him/her. The Chief secretary superintending control over the whole secretariat and staff attached to the ministers.

The department is further divided into sections, each of which is under the charge of a section officer. Apart from these sections, dealing with the subjects allotted to them, there are other offices sections, assigned with specific duties. When there is more than one secretary in a department, there shall be a clear separation of work.[4]

Departments

State insignias

Symbols of Kerala
LanguageMalayalam
MammalElephant
BirdGreat Indian hornbill
FishPearlspot (karimeen)
FlowerCassia fistula (Indian laburnum)
FruitJackfruit
TreeCoconut
CostumeMundum neriyathum (women)
Mundu (men)

Main article: Seal of Kerala

The Kerala State Emblem is a derivative version of the royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Travancore. The state emblem symbolises two elephants guarding the Imperial Shanku, or conch, in its imperial crest. This crest was the insignia of Lord Sree Padmanabha (a form of Lord Vishnu) - the national deity of Travancore. Shanku was considered one of the common emblems of a majority of the Kerala feudal kingdoms. The Kingdom of Cochin and Zamorin's Malabar also had conch as state emblems. When the kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore merged in 1949, for a brief period, the crest carried a wheel or chakra in the centre with Shanku on top of it. With the accession of Malabar into Travancore-Cochin, the state of Kerala was formed in 1957. During this time, the royal coat of arms of the Travancore kingdom was modified by placing the "Lion Capital of Ashoka" on top of the imperial conch. The Travancore Royal Family uses the erstwhile Royal Coat of Arms of Travancore today, whereas Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Trivandrum uses only the imperial conch crest as its coat of arms.

The state animal of Kerala is the elephant, and the government emblem has two elephants in it. The state bird is the great Indian hornbill (ML:മലമ്പുഴക്കി വേഴാമ്പല്‍). The state flower is the golden shower (ML:കണിക്കൊന്ന), and the state tree is the coconut.[5] The state fish is the pearlspot or karimeen (കരിമീന്‍‌).

Elections

Main article: Elections in Kerala

Elections to the state assembly are held every five years. Elections are generally held for Parliament, State assembly and regional panchayats. Due to the large numbers of eligible voters, over 21 million, elections are usually held on several dates. Like all other Indian states, the minimum age of registration of a voter is 18 years.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Kerala

Kerala has a unique position in India as one of the most politicised states. It has the nation's largest politically aware population, which actively participates in state politics.

Politics in Kerala is dominated by two political fronts: the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Indian National Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) since late 1970s. These two coalitions have alternated in power since 1982. According to the 2016 Kerala Legislative Assembly election, the LDF has a majority in the state assembly (92/140).

The political alliance has strongly stabilised and, with rare exceptions, most of the coalition partners maintain loyalty to the alliance. As a result of this, power has alternated between these two fronts since 1979.

In terms of individual parties, the state has strong leanings towards socialism and thus Communist parties have made strong inroads in Kerala. The Malabar region, particularly Kannur and Palakkad, are considered the heartland of the Communist parties. The Kollam and Alapuzha districts, where trade unions have a strong presence, are generally inclined to Left parties, though several times the UDF has won. The CPI(M) led LDF did a clean sweep of 11–0 over UDF and NDA in Kollam district during 2016 Local body election.[6] The largest Communist party is the CPIM and the second largest is the CPI.

The Indian National Congress, which leads the UDF coalition, has had a very strong presence in Kerala since pre-Independence days. The Congress party has great popularity in the Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram regions, whereas it has a strong influence in some parts of Idukki regions.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (the Party that currently leads the Government of India) is also active in Kerala, but is not part of either coalition. It does not have any elected Parliament member, and has lost its one Legislative Assembly member in the 2021 Kerala Legislative Assembly election and selected members in all the Corporations, several Municipal Councils and a large number of Local Panchayats. The party enjoys popularity in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod.

Other popular regional parties are:

Awards and honours

Kerala was declared as the first complete digitally administered state of India on 27 February 2016.[7] The India Corruption Survey 2019 by Transparency International declared Kerala the least-corrupt state in India.[8] The state topped in the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals according to the annual report of NITI Aayog published in 2019.[9] The Public Affairs Index-2020 released by the Public Affairs Centre, India, designated Kerala as the best governed Indian state.[10]

References

  1. ^ "The States". Government of India. Archived from the original on 23 March 2008.
  2. ^ "Kerala Government - Legislature". Kerala Niyamasabha.
  3. ^ "Local Self Government". Archived from the original on 11 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Organizational and functional details of the Government Secretariat". The official website, Government of Kerala. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010.
  5. ^ "Kerala Symbols". kerenvis.nic.in. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008.
  6. ^ "Red wave trounces UDF in Kerala". The Hindu. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  7. ^ Special currespondent (28 February 2016). "Kerala the first digital State". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  8. ^ India Corruption Survey 2019 - Report (PDF). Transparency International India. 2019. p. 22.
  9. ^ Gireesh Chandra Prasad (30 December 2019). "Kerala tops sustainable development goals index". Livemint. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  10. ^ PTI (30 October 2020). "Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa best governed States: report". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 June 2021.

Further reading