Tamil Nadu has been left out of the 57-member Narendra Modi Ministry ushered into the office on Thursday, thanks to the people voting for only one MP from the AIADMK-BJP front, Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam’s son Ravindranath.
The irony is that there was no agreement among the top two, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and Deputy O Pannerselvam. While OPS pitched for his son, Edappadi favoured more experienced Rajya Sabha member R Vaithalingam.
Modi and his right hand and present Home Minister Amit Shah decided not to include anyone and are content that more seasoned Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and newly inducted Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, who both hail from Tamil Nadu, will represent the state adequately.
Palanisami and Pannerselvam who were in the forecourt of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan where the grand ceremony was held, were visibly disappointed by the exclusion of anyone from the AIADMK.
This is the first time in 60 years that Tamil Nadu is going without representation in the Union Ministry. Even in 1989, when the Congress-AIADMK alliance led by J Jayalalithaa and Rajiv Gandhi swept the Lok Sabha polls in the State and Rajiv lost at the Centre, V P Singh who became Prime Minister of the National Front Government inducted DMK ideologue and party president M Karunanidhi’s nephew Murasoli Maran as Minister.
Nirmala Sitharaman, who was Defence Minister in Modi 1.0 is a native of Tiruchi. Dr Jaishankar, former Foreign Secretary, though a Tamil, was born and brought up in New Delhi. He is the son of defence expert S Subramaniam. He did his first stint in foreign service as first secretary in the Indian High Commission in Colombo after the 1987 India-Sri Lanka peace agreement. His contemporary in the mission then was Hardeep Singh Puri who briefed LTTE chief V Prabhakaran on the details of the peace agreement.
Dr Jaishankar served as ambassador to the US and China during critical periods. He played a key role in the Indo-US nuclear deal and also in defusing tension during the standoff at Doklam between Indian and Chinese armies.
Hardeep Singh Puri, who has been inducted as Minister of State in charge of Housing and Urban development, retired as India’s permanent representative in the UN. He was in the first Modi Government also.