TAMIL NADU

She keeps chopping and changing

Chennai Nov. 10. The line-up of sacked Ministers in Tamil Nadu may just set a record of sorts. As many as 21 Ministers have been ousted in the AIADMK regime in 18 months.

With the ninth Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, the Industries department has seen five Ministers, Rural Industries— four and the Handlooms department— three in less than two years. And, of the 135 AIADMK MLAs, 45 have been given a Ministerial stint till now.

But, as the list of ousted Ministers grows with every reshuffle, hopes of rehabilitation also rise. For, the three of the 21 axed Ministers have managed a comeback.

Ever since the AIADMK returned to power last May, Ministerial shake-ups have become a regular feature, as frequent as one every two months.

In the first shake-up, just over a fortnight after Jayalalithaa took charge, three Ministers— Ayyaru Vandayar, Pollachi Jayaraman and R. Viswanathan— were given marching orders on June 9 last year.

A fortnight later— on June 26— the Backward Classes Minister, A. Venkatachalam, was replaced by Valarmathi Jebaraj. When Ms. Jayalalithaa stepped down following a Supreme Court order and the PWD Minister, O. Paneerselvam, took over in September last year, A. K. Selvaraj was sacked and in came, S. M. Velusamy as new Housing Minister.

A month later, Ms. Valarmathi Jebaraj was dropped in the wake of a controversy involving her brother.

A massive shake-up took place, when Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to power on March 1 this year. As many as 10 Ministers— the Industries Minister, K. Pandurangan; the Information Minister, S. S. Thirunavukkarasu; the Tourism Minister, R. Saroja; the Adi Dravidar Minister, V. Subramaniam; the Handlooms Minister, S. P. Shanmuganathan; the Fisheries Minister, Rajendra Prasad; the Rural Industries Minister, R. Vaithilingam; the Dairy Development Minister, C. Shanmugavelu; the Labour Minister, Anwar Rhazza; and the Commercial Taxes Minister, C. V. Shanmugam— were removed. But, Mr. Viswanathan, who was sent packing in the first shake-up was reinducted.

Three months later, the Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, was stripped of the Information and Technology portfolio while the Commercial Taxes Minister, S. M. Velusamy, was divested of Industries. Barely two months later, the Housing Minister, M. C. Sampath, and the Local Administration Minister, C. Durairaj, swapped posts.

On August 29 this year, Mr. Durairaj, who witnessed the controversial ritual of burying children and retrieving them alive, in his Sedapatti constituency was dropped and so also, the Rural Industries Minister, R. Vilwanathan. In yesterday's shake-up, three Ministers were dropped, but two old faces, Anwar Rhazza and Mr. Vaithilingam, were given a Ministerial berth for the second time.

With constant chops and changes, the former Ministers in Treasury benches now outnumber the ex-Ministers in the DMK legislative group.

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