Four days after registering an emphatic win in the assembly elections, DMK chief M K Stalin will be sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Friday at Raj Bhavan here.
This will be the sixth time the chief minister will be from the DMK since 1967, when party founder C N Annadurai was first elected to the post. Stalin’s father M Karunanidhi held the post thereafter.
On Thursday, Raj Bhavan released a statement with the list of ministers to be appointed in the new government. It said Governor Banwarilal Purohit approved the list sent by chief minister-elect Stalin. Interestingly, Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi does not figure in the list.
A senior DMK leader said Udhayanidhi may be accommodated later. “There are many districts without representation in the cabinet. Entire delta, including Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai, has no minister. That was one of the reasons for not considering Udhayanidhi,” the leader said.
The oath-taking ceremony will be carried out following all Covid protocols.
In the 34-member cabinet, Stalin will hold Home portfolio. DMK veterans Duraimurugan (Water Resources), K N Nehru (Municipal Administration), I Periyasamy (Co-operation), K Ponmudi (Higher Education) and Stalin’s close aide E V Velu (PWD) will be among the senior cabinet members.
P Geetha Jeevan and N Kayalvizhi Selvaraj are the women members in the cabinet. Senthil Balaji, popular leader from Karur who was also a former AIADMK minister and Sasikala supporter before joining the DMK, will get Electricity and Excise portfolios. Former Chennai city mayor Ma Subamanian, once considered as Stalin’s closest aide, will get Health portfolio.
Palanivel Thiagarajan, who comes from a political family in Madurai, will be the new Finance minister. Thiagarajan completed his studies from NIT Trichy, the State University of New York and did his MBA in Finance from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. His father P T R Palanivel Rajan was a former Speaker and minister in DMK regimes. His grandfather P T Rajan was a former chief minister of Madras Presidency in the 1930s.
Udhayanidhi’s friend and 43-year-old MLA Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi will get Education portfolio. Like Thiagarajan, Poyyamozhi comes from a family of DMK veterans. While his late grandfather Anbil Dharmalingam was close to Karunanidhi and his late father Anbil Poyyamozhi was close to Stalin, Mahesh is known to be close to Udhayanidhi.
In fact, Udhayanidhi, who successfully made his electoral debut this time, began his foray into politics by campaigning for Mahesh in the 2016 Assembly polls.
There will be at least three ministers for Chennai region and two each for Villupuram, Cuddalore, Tirupur, Trichy, Virudhunagar and Thoothukudi in Stalin’s team. Salem, Dharmapuri and Coimbatore regions, which had some of the most powerful ministers in the previous AIADMK cabinet, do not have any minister in the list.
Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, the DMK camp was also busy with discussions on priorities in the initial days of new government. At the top of the priority list is handling the Covid situation.
Officials have already been told to start operations to exploit maximum resources in the state for oxygen supply. “Availing oxygen from several central government establishments in Tamil Nadu… and all private steel plants are the first priority. The distribution of remdesivir to individual patients is restricted in Chennai alone. It will soon be decentralised,” said a top source in DMK coordinating the transition process. “There are also preparations to double the number of oxygen beds in the state within a week….”
The leader said a complete lockdown or more tightened restrictions are being considered. “If not a complete lockdown, the state borders will be checked thoroughly. Imposing stringent measures means the government will also resume cash assistance for ration card holders,” he said.
The new regime is also considering changes in the top bureaucracy. A source said Chief Secretary Rajeev Ranjan will be replaced with V Irai Anbu, a senior bureaucrat sidelined by the AIADMK regime. While DGP J K Tripathy may be allowed to continue as his retirement is due for next month, C Sylendra Babu, a much-celebrated IPS officer, is likely to be picked as his successor. Like Anbu, Babu was also sidelined by the previous regime.