For first time in 18 yrs, TN has no minister

For first time in 18 yrs, TN has no minister

With BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan being made Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, it will be for the first time in 18 years that Tamil Nadu will not have a single Cabinet-rank minister at the Centre.

Since 1996, elected Parliament members from either the AIADMK or the DMK have been part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments and were given significant cabinet portfolios.

In 1996, P Chidambaram, representing the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), and Murasoli Maran from the DMK were Union finance minister and Union minister for commerce and industry respectively, in the I K Gujral ministry.Like Pon Radhakrishnan, Chidambaram too has the distinction of being the only representative from Tamil Nadu to be inducted as Minister of State for commerce (independent charge) in the P V Narasimha Rao regime in 1991.

This time, Nirmala Sitharaman, who has her roots in Tamil Nadu, has been given Minister of State for Commerce and Industry. However, she is now a resident of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

For Radhakrishnan, the assignment is not new as he served as minister of state for youth affairs and sports in the BJP-led A B Vajpayee government. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Nagercoil segment in 1999 for the first time. However, the 62-year-old leader lost to a CPM candidate from there in 2004, while also being defeated by a DMK candidate in Kanniyakumari in 2009.

In the 2014 elections, besides Pon Radhakrishnan, former Union minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK survived the onslaught of the AIADMK in the state and won from Dharmapuri. The PMK, which is part of the BJP’s rainbow alliance in Tamil Nadu, is upset over the denial of berth to him in the Union ministry. “We were sure that our Thalaivar (Anbumani) will get another stint at the Centre. It is a great disappointment to us,” a senior PMK leader said.

However, the PMK leader will have to wait till he is cleared of his charges. The CBI has charged Anbumani with abusing his position as the Union minister in 2008, when he proceeded with admission formalities at an Indore-based medical college despite the Medical Council of India not giving its approval to it.

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