By R.BHAGWAN SINGH
Chennai, May 18: Ms Kanimozhi, the poet daughter of DMK chief minister M. Karunanidhi, is likely to be inducted shortly into the UPA government with a Cabinet rank in one of the economic affairs ministries, possibly commerce, which is now held by Mr Kamal Nath, informed sources said.
The move could take place once the Congress decides on its nominee to succeed President Abdul Kalam, sources added. Should the present choice of Pranab Mukherjee stick, it is said that finance minister P. Chidambaram could be moved to external affairs and Mr C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, may take over the finance ministry. It is said that commerce and industries minister Kamal Nath who has a running battle going with his minister of state Jairam Ramesh over a variety of issues, might be relieved from commerce and allowed to retain industries. The commerce portfolio could then be Ms Kanimozhi's by the end of the year or sooner, sources said.
"When the UPA government was formed the DMK was allotted a quota of three Cabinet ministers and four ministers of state. After the exit of Dayanidhi Maran, Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) has not filled up the Cabinet post and has only decided on Ms Radhika Selvi as minister of state, taking the total number of DMK's junior ministers to five. The Cabinet post has been kept vacant for Ms Kanimozhi and she might get the nod soon after the Presidential election, a couple of months after becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha," sources said.
"Sure, there may be a lot of criticism that Kalaignar is inducting his daughter in the Rajya Sabha and sending her at once into the Central Cabinet. But then, (health minister) Dr Anbumani Ramadoss (PMK) and Dayanidhi Maran too were greenhorns when they were made Union ministers as first-time MPs," said a DMK senior leader. Initially, it was believed that Ms Kanimozhi would get the forests and environment ministry after Mr A. Raja was moved to Mr Maran's IT and communications ministry but later it was decided on an economic affairs ministry so that she could be part of influential Cabinet committees on economic and political affairs. With Mr S. Reghupathy (DMK) having been moved from home to forests and environment as the minister of state, it became certain that Ms Kanimozhi would take charge of some other ministry. Despite being born into a political family, Ms Kanimozhi has kept away from active party work and was content focusing on socio-cultural issues and people's problems until now. However, the articulate economics graduate is now on a fast-track learning to prepare for a new career as a politician. She was a keen watcher in the visitors' gallery during the just concluded Budget session of the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Even while she was getting ready for entering the Rajya Sabha through the biennial election slated for June 15, the sudden exit of her nephew Dayanidhi Maran as the high profile IT and communications minister after a family spat, created a void in the Capital that the First Family has decided to quickly fill up. Although he was apprehensive until recently that her entry into politics might raise the pitch of opposition criticism, spearheaded by Ms Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK, that he has been promoting his family interests, Mr Karunanidhi recently okayed the political initiation of 39-year-old Kanimozhi. He had planned a firm grounding for his pet daughter in the Rajya Sabha before she could be considered for bigger responsibilities but the Maran affair hastened the decision to get her into the Cabinet, sources said. While Ms Kanimozhi herself seems hesitant about jumping into national politics so soon and suddenly, sources close to her said she has been assured the support of her influential brothers, state local administration minister M. K. Stalin and southern strongman M. K. Azhagiri, in taking over the position left vacant by a disowned Dayanaidhi Maran -to be Mr Karunanidhi's loyal representative in the Capital. Mr Maran's late father Murasoli Maran was the commerce and industries minister in the United Front government and was the architect of the revolt of the developing and underdeveloped nations against the rich at the Doha WTO meet.