Sibal's appointment jolt for DMK

The DMK expected the ministry to be retained by the party.

However, on record, the MPs enthused confidence that the party would get back the portfolio when the cabinet reshuffle takes place. Reacting to the PM’s move, DMK Parliamentary Party leader T R Baalu said party chief M Karunanidhi has not yet decided on a successor to Raja and suggested that Sibal getting Telecom as additional charge could be a “stop-gap arrangement”.

“No one has any say on the issue except the Prime Minister. As such, our leader (M Karunanidhi) has not given any name to succeed Raja to the Prime Minister,” he said. “It is 100 per cent the prerogative of the Prime Minister to allot vacant portfolios,” he said. “Our leader will take a decision on the successor after consultations with senior party leaders and then convey the name to the PM,” he said.

Interestingly, the PM was said to have opposed giving the portfolio to DMK in 2009 when he formed the government for the second time but later relented to pressure from the regional party whose support was vital for the UPA’s sustenance.

Sibal getting the charge of the telecom ministry is also not without significance. An eminent lawyer-turned-politician, Sibal is aware of the scam and has handled telecom cases earlier. “Sibal knows the nuances of the subject and hence PM decided he was the best man for the job”, a Congress MP told Deccan Herald.  Sibal’s immediate focus will be to answer questions on telecom scam if questions come up – that is if the two Houses are allowed to function normally. Sibal, interestingly, had preferred the telecom ministry in 2009, according to sources close to him.

While reshuffle may not happen any time soon, the choice of successor to Raja within the DMK seems to have narrowed down to Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi.  However, she said on Monday, “I am not sure. This is a party decision. The leader (Karunanidhi) of the party has to take a decision.”

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