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Another sacrifice, this time a Rao

New Delhi/Chennai, May 25: What’s a ministry in this season of renunciation in power-grabbing Delhi'

And so it was that K. Chandrasekhar Rao abdicated his chair in the shipping ministry, rescuing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from his first coalition crisis.

The southern seven, whom their leader M. Karunanidhi had stopped from joining work yesterday, will be in office tomorrow after the DMK’s second gripe, of being done out of the revenue department in the finance ministry, was also taken care of.

T.R. Baalu gets shipping in addition to surface transport and highways and S.S. Palanimanickkam becomes minister of state for finance with charge of revenue, moving from commerce and industry. There was a third reason for unhappiness for the DMK — minister of state for home S. Raghupathy was not given personnel — but Karunanidhi was ready to let it pass for now.

Singh called Karunanidhi’s troubleshooter and IT and communications minister Dayanidhi Maran this afternoon to convey that the DMK’s grievances had been addressed. After the meeting, Maran announced the crisis had blown over.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram said he would have no problem working with Palanimanickkam. There had been speculation earlier that Karunanidhi was unhappy that Chidambaram, elected from Tamil Nadu, had been appointed without consulting him and that the finance minister did not want a DMK member under his wing.

In Chennai, the DMK adopted a resolution hailing Sonia’s “supreme act of sacrifice” in the country’s interest in declining the Prime Minister’s post. Maybe, it should have included Chandrasekhar Rao.

The Telengana Rashtra Samiti leader took charge of the shipping ministry yesterday. But, after a meeting today with Singh, Rao agreed to give it up. The spadework had, however, been done by the original renouncer, Sonia. “Last night, I met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the issue of the DMK demanding the shipping ministry. For the sake of stability of this government, I asked the Prime Minister to re-allocate his portfolio,” Rao said.

Singh described him as a “yogi” (saint), Rao revealed. “I am not after power or position (that one sounds familiar). I only want a separate Telengana.”

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