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KK Shailaja, Minister for Health and Social Justice, Kerala state, has been at the centre of handling the Coronavirus situation in the state. She was also at the heart of skillfully handling the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. After the Nipah virus outbreak, the state has been prepared to handle any new medical emergencies. The state has been handling the coronavirus outbreak with a critical and careful hand. KK Shailaja has been talking to the media frequently. She has issued strict action against anyone spreading false information or rumour about Covid-19. Social isolation of suspected individuals and public spaces have been quarantined including suspension of schools, colleges/universities and closing of malls, gyms, cinema halls, tourist destination and a ban on public gathering and large celebrations.

Kerala has a total of twenty-two (22) coronavirus positive cases, and three (3) recovered cases, as of March 16th, 2020. The ruling party under the direction of Health Minister KK Shailaja and her team of experts have taken measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The opposition has taken time to be critical of the ruling party and Minister KK Shailaja in particular. The honourable Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammad Khan is on vacation with a 60-member crew at Ponmudi.

The ruling party under the direction of Health Minister KK Shailaja and her team of experts have taken measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The opposition has taken time to be critical of the ruling party and Minister KK Shailaja in particular.

Her Journey

KK Shailaja Teacher started her political career with her work as a cadre at the Students Federation of India (SFI), and later become a member of the CPI (M) Central Committee. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Science from Pazhassi Raja NSS College, Mattannur and Bachelor of Education from Visvesvarayya College. The sixty-three (63) years old minister is the author of two books and worked as a teacher until the year 2004. After that, she has been actively and fully engaged in her political career. She is also the State Secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association and Joint Secretary of its Central Committee.

KK Shailaja is one of the two women on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Cabinet of 2016 to 2021. She has been receiving praises and waves of support for her quick and decisive action against both the Nipah and Coronavirus outbreak. This has made a large number of supporters push the idea that KK Shailaja would make for a great chief minister for the next term. While supporters sing laurels, the opposition has been raising issues with the media screen time Shailaja has been receiving from the regular press meets, calling it an “image-building exercise”. They’ve also moved a motion against her claiming she has misinformed the assembly and is trying to dodge the conversation.

KK Shailaja is one of the two women on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Cabinet of 2016 to 2021. She has been receiving praises and waves of support for her quick and decisive action against both the Nipah and Coronavirus outbreak. This has made a large number of supporters push the idea that KK Shailaja would make for a great chief minister for the next term.

Ministers and other politicians across the country have been using their social media to spread misinformation and absurd or nonsensical facts about Covid-19, while Shailaja has been using it to share information, start a campaign and keep the public informed. “Kerala media houses are super vigilant, so if you hide anything from them, they will go aggressive and publish their exclusives. I asked them not to publish figures received from here and there and promised a press meet every day. They agreed. So every evening, they can ask me anything,” she said to the Live Mint

Also read: Remya Haridas: The Only Dalit Woman MP From Kerala In Lok Sabha 2019

Opposition

Ramesh Chennithala’s leader of the opposition, United Democratic Front (UDF) on his Facebook account, questioned minister KK Shailaja’s condemnation of Italy returned family who was the first positive cases of Covid-19 in Kerala. Chennithala is also not satisfied with the current plan of action the minister has taken and suggested a ‘mitigation’ strategy employed by western countries like America and Britain. Because of Covid-19, the Kerala Legislative Assembly that was in session has been adjourned. Chennithala, on 12th March, termed the move to shorten the session as an alarmist. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullapally Ramachandran pointed out that both Houses of the Parliament and Assemblies in other States were in session despite the outbreak.

Health Minister, KK Shailaja has handled the outbreak with care, a lot of thought, and inputs from experts. In an interview with Huffington Post, she said, “Fighting an epidemic like corona requires scientific temper, humanism and a spirit for inquiry and reform. Superstition, credulity, emotionalism and irrationalism will derail the whole process by dispiriting and discouraging the experts and health activists who try hard to resolve the threat scientifically.” To deal with a crisis and handle it, one does not need to be a subject expert. Experience in handling crises and listening to subject experts will help. 

Also read: Fisherwomen In Kerala And Their Discontentment With Globalisation

Like KK Shailaja said, “I don’t do anything special. I have a degree in chemistry, so I have some knowledge about molecules and medicines. Otherwise, it is always a team effort“. It takes a team and a capable leader.


Featured Image Source: Free Press Journal

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