Thiruvananthapuram: PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran on Monday fielded questions in the absence of Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan in the assembly, providing further grist to the political mill as to who is number two in the Cabinet after E.P. Jayarajan's unceremonious exit last month.
Even though Law Minister A.K. Balan has since taken the assembly seat next to Vijayan's, earlier occupied by the then Industries Minister Jayarajan, Public Works Department Minister Sudhakaran answered questions in place of the Chief Minister.
Jayarajan resigned on October 14 after a controversy over the appointment of two of his relatives in state public sector enterprises.
If one were to go by the CPM seniority list, Finance Minister Thomas Issac is senior to Balan. On the other hand, Sudhakaran is not even a central committee member.
Both Balan and Issac are members of the central committee of the ruling party.
One of the reasons for Sudhakaran's ascendancy within the ruling dispensation could be that he has always followed Pinarayi, particularly when the political oneupmanship between Pinarayi and former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan was at its peak.
On the other hand, Balan and Issac played it safe during the war for supremacy between the two veteran communist leaders.
Those in the know of internal dynamics in the CPM in Kerala say that even though both Sudhakaran and Issac hail from Alappuzha district, they never enjoyed the best of relations.