Political Pickle

Who will be Union minister from Tamil Nadu?

If there was one state that disappointed the NDA, it was Tamil Nadu. That is if you ignore Kerala where the BJP is yet to open its account. Despite the BJP stitching a rainbow coalition with the AIADMK, PMK, DMDK and Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), the NDA could win just one seat. The lone NDA MP from Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha will be P Raveendranath, the son of Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam. 

Which is why when Narendra Modi sits down to constitute his council of ministers, he will have to scratch his head looking for a suitable name to represent Tamil Nadu. It is too important a state to leave unrepresented in the Union cabinet, more so when the BJP’s ratings in Tamil Nadu have not been flattering

Modi travelled to Theni to canvas for Raveendranath where the latter tried to do what the AIADMK leaders used to do with Jayalalithaa – fall at the feet. There are stories doing the rounds about OPS putting pressure on Modi to induct his son as a minister of state but knowing the equation the PM and Amit Shah share with OPS, it is highly unlikely that the AIADMK leader will even dare to put forth such a proposal. More so, when Raveendranath is a first-time MP and has no administrative experience to speak of. 

In the last government, Pon Radhakrishnan as the MP from Kanyakumari was the minister of state for Finance. This time, he lost as did BJP Tamil Nadu unit president Tamilisai Sounderarajan from Tuticorin. 

The AIADMK has 12 Rajya Sabha MPs who could be looked at but four of them are retiring in July. Of them, Dr V Maitreyan thanks to his proximity to the PM could have been an option. The oncologist-turned-politician has been with the BJP in the past and was instrumental in introducing OPS to the saffron party. But of late, things have not been too friendly between Maitreyan and the AIADMK leadership and his renomination itself is a matter of suspense. Unless of course, the BJP instructs OPS and Edappadi Palaniswami to do so

The seniormost among the remaining AIADMK MPs is A Navaneethakrishnan, the leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha and his term extends till 2022. He has been Tamil Nadu Advocate General and was lawyer for Jayalalithaa in different corruption cases. But his claim to fame in the Upper House so far has been to sing the MGR song `Kashmir, Beautiful Kashmir … Kashmir, wonderful Kashmir’, regaling the Elders. 

In the absence of suitable choices, Modi and Amit Shah could look at using the Rajya Sabha election to get a politically useful BJP or AIADMK candidate elected and then induct the MP into the Union ministry.

While Radhakrishnan and Sounderarajan would fancy their chances, GK Vasan of TMC could emerge as an option as well. Vasan has served as minister for Shipping in the UPA regime. As the son of GK Moopanar, one of the tallest Congress leaders to emerge from Tamil Nadu, he would be seen to have the right political pedigree as well.

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