The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Forest Raja tipped for phones
- DMK hands Manmohan wish list of ministry musical chairs

New Delhi, May 14: A. Raja, the environment and forest minister, is likely to replace Dayanidhi Maran in communication and information technology.

The change will be part of a round of musical chairs made unavoidable by the sudden ouster of Dayanidhi from the cabinet.

S. Reghupathy, a minister of state for home, may be promoted as a cabinet minister and take Raja’s place. V. Radhika Selvi could replace Reghupathy, while T.R. Baalu will keep shipping, road transport and highways.

Two of the changes will not entail induction but, if upgraded, Reghupathy will have to take oath of office again. Selvi, a Lok Sabha MP, will have to be sworn in afresh. The DMK has seven representatives in the present council of ministers.

Dayanidhi’s resignation letter reached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this morning. “It is under consideration,” parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said in the afternoon.

Late tonight, Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said, the resignation letter had been forwarded to the President’s office.

Earlier, asked if the Prime Minister was thinking of requesting DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi to reconsider Dayanidhi’s resignation, an official source said: “It is for the coalition partner to decide who will remain or be withdrawn from the cabinet. It is not a question of whether the Prime Minister likes or does not like the person in question.”

Outside Parliament, some leaders were heard discussing whether Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the two central leaders with whom Dayanidhi claims to share a good rapport — would have reservations in letting the young minister go.

A parallel was drawn between Dayanidhi and Shiv Sena MP Suresh Prabhu, who was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Prabhu was rated highly by Vajpayee but, for reasons that were never confirmed, fell foul of party boss Bal Thackeray and had to be dropped, reportedly against the then Prime Minister’s wishes.

The source clarified that there was no such imperative at play in Dayanidhi’s case.

Karunanidhi sent his emissary, Arcot Veeraswamy, to hand over two sealed envelopes each to Singh and Sonia. Veeraswamy said he had no idea about the contents but speculation was rife that the ministerial changes were listed. After meeting Singh, Veeraswamy said: “He told me that he would implement whatever was sought by Karunanidhi in the letters.”

Outside Sonia’s home, Veeraswamy claimed Dayanidhi had warned the Tamil Nadu home secretary that if he did not control the violence in Madurai, the central minister would complain to the President. This, according to Veeraswamy, is “serious anti-party activity” because law and order is directly under Karunanidhi who holds the state home portfolio.

“Dayanidhi should have taken the matter up with the chief minister instead of invoking the President’s name.”

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