A debutante MLA with just four years of experience in politics, Udayanidhi Stalin, son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, was inducted as a Cabinet minister on Wednesday, 14 December.
If Udayanidhi’s swearing-in wasn’t enough fodder for debate on nepotism, the portfolios handed to him by MK Stalin made it clear that the debutant minister is being groomed to take on a leadership role.
While it wasn’t a surprise, months of suspense came to an end on Wednesday, when the party’s Youth Wing secretary took oath as the 35th minister in the Tamil Nadu Cabinet.
This “meteoric rise” of The Son — as he is referred to by many — comes just four years after Udhayanidhi entered politics and 19 months after he was elected as a first-time MLA from the Chepauk-Triplicane constituency in Chennai.
The 45-year-old DMK scion took oath of office and secrecy by 9.30 am, which was administered to him by Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi at the Raj Bhavan. The swearing-in ceremony saw the participation of several guests, including close family members of Udhayanidhi Stalin, ministers in the government, his friends and others.
The auspiciousness of the time and date — the penultimate day of the Tamil month of Karthigai — was hard to miss and was also ironic as the DMK claims to promote rationalism.
With Udayanidhi’s induction into the Cabinet, a portfolio reshuffle was inevitable.
Youth Welfare and Sports Development; Special Programme Implementation Department, and the Poverty Alleviation Programme and Rural Indebtedness are the portfolios allocated to Udayanidhi.
The Special Programme Implementation Department portfolio has much to say on what MK Stalin’s plans for his son are. The portfolio was previously held by Stalin himself.
It will not only allow Udhayanidhi to criss-cross the state, it will also enable him to deal with multiple ministries and even seek reports from ministers senior to him — a move, which many political observers believe, signals the succession plan of the DMK.
When South First spoke to a DMK leader about the portfolios allocated to Udhayanidhi, he said: “By giving him Youth Welfare and Sports Development, it will help the party to connect with the youth of the state. He will bring in a fresh and renewed energy. So, by doing good work for the youth, the DMK will be able to get the support from youngsters.”
He pointed out that the portfolios will allow Udayanidhi to travel across constituencies, especially considering the fact that the DMK had promised to build sporting facilities in all constituencies.
‘Will respond to criticism through work’
Speaking to reporters after being sworn-in as a minister, Udhayanidhi said that he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Tamil Nadu and for the support extended by party members.
When asked about the strong criticism levelled by many of dynasty politics and labelling him as “inexperienced”, the DMK scion said that he would respond to all the criticism through his hard work and good actions as a minister.
In a statement, he also recalled the work done by the DMK youth wing ever since he was appointed as the secretary in July, 2019.
Udhayanidhi further clarified that ‘Maamannan’ directed by Mari Selvaraj would be his last film as an actor and his plans of being part of Kamal Haasan’s next were dropped due to the cabinet induction.
Meanwhile, both Superstar Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan congratulated and extended their best wishes for the new minister on Twitter.
Three new orders signed
Before formally assuming charge as the minister, the new entrant to the Tamil Nadu Cabinet visited the memorials of late DMK stalwarts CN Annadurai and M Karunanidhi — which were fully decked up — at the Marina Beach to pay his tributes.
Following this, Udhayanidhi went to his newly-readied room in the secretariat at Fort St George to take charge.
A wooden plaque addressing him as the Minister of Youth Welfare and Sports Development along with scores of party workers awaited him there.
Flanked by senior ministers such as Duraimurugan, KN Nehru, Ponmudy, EV Velu, Sekar Babu, and Ma Subramanian, among others, the DMK scion sat on the minister’s chair and signed three orders with a pen given to him by KN Nehru.
Out of the three orders he signed, one was on conducting the Chief Minister’s Trophy at the state and district level at an estimated cost of ₹47.04 crore which will see competitions in 16 disciplines, including traditional sports such as Kabbadi and Silambattam, covering the general public, as well as persons with disability.
While another order increased the monthly pension of nine sportspersons in the state, who are doing poorly, from ₹3,000 to ₹6,000, the third file he signed on was to give a cash incentive of ₹4 lakh to Niveditha, who bagged the silver medal in the 25m standard pistol category at the International Shooting Sports Federation’s Junior World Championship held in Peru.
Minor reshuffle of Cabinet
Chief Minister Stalin took the opportunity of Udhayanidhi’s induction to affect a minor reshuffle in the Cabinet.
Senior minister I Periyasamy was made the minister for rural development. He was earlier holding charge as the minister of cooperation, which, according to sources, the senior leader was not happy with. The Cooperation Department has now been allocated to KR Periyakaruppan.
As for K Ramachandran, he was moved from the Forest Department and has been appointed as the new tourism minister.
Sekar Babu has been given charge of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority in addition to being the minister in the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.
To Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, the chief minister has assigned the additional responsibility of handling the Department of Statistics.
There are also few minor additions to the portfolios and subject allocations given to ministers like S Muthusamy, RS Raja Kannappan and R Gandhi.