PTR loses finance portfolio, gets IT, in MK Stalin reshuffle exercise following purported audio leak

Though opinions and assumptions varied, sources said consultations were held by DMK High Command till the last minute regarding PTR's shuffle.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published May 11, 2023 | 3:22 PM Updated May 11, 2023 | 3:27 PM

The new Tamil Nadu Cabinet after the swearing in ceremony at Raj Bhavan. (Supplied)

In a major reshuffle of his Cabinet, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin relieved Palanivel Thiaga Rajan (PTR) from his duties as finance minister and handed the title to former Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu on Thursday, 11 May.

Confirming speculations that had been doing the rounds ever since the news of Stalin looking to make changes to his Cabinet surfaced, PTR was divested of the finance portfolio and handed the IT Ministry instead.

Thennarasu has also been allotted Ministries of Human Resources Management, Pensions and Pensionary Benefits and Statistics. In addition, he will also be in-charge of the Archaeology Department.

The big reshuffle

But what of PTR? PTR has replaced Mano Thangaraj and has been made the Information Technology & Digital Services Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Thangaraj has, in turn, been allotted the Milk & Dairy Development Ministry, which was held by SM Nasar who was removed from the Cabinet on 9 May.

New minister TRB Rajaa being wished by CM Stalin and Governor RN Ravi. (Supplied)

TRB Rajaa, a first-time minister, has been allotted the industries portfolio.

Further, MP Saminathan, who is the minister for information & publicity, has been given additional charge of the the Ministry of Tamil Official Language and Development, Tamil Culture. Saminathan will also be in charge of Film Technology and Cinematograph Act, Newsprint Control, Stationery, and Printing.

On the recommendation of the chief minister, Governor RN Ravi has approved the change of portfolios and subject allocations of the ministers.

Also Read: Social media wants CM to retain PTR in finance portfolio

PTR’s change — the talking point

The Cabinet reshuffle has been a talking point in the Tamil Nadu political scene for a week now, following leaked information that PTR’s portfolio would be changed. Though opinions and assumptions varied, consultations were held by the DMK High Command till the last minute on divesting him of the finance portfolio.

Highly placed sources in the DMK told South First that Stalin was “in oscillation” till the last minute regarding changing PTR’s portfolio, but that he could not do anything beyond a point due to pressure from a few of those closely related to him.

“There is disappointment everywhere in removing PTR from Finance, rather than welcoming the new appointment of Thennarasu as finance minister. But PTR himself has accepted the change and moved on. There is no point in talking about it further,” the source said.

According to political observers, the portfolio change likely comes following the leak of PTR’s purported audio accusing Stalin’s family of making more money in one year than their ancestors made during their lifetime, which was later rebutted by PTR.

Also Read: PTR Audio Row: Stalin breaks silence, claims ‘cheap politics’ by BJP

Thanks to Stalin, wishes to Thennarasu: PTR

Meanwhile, PTR took to Twitter to share a long thank you message, stating that the past two years have been the most fulfilling in his life.

“Under the leadership of CM Stalin, I presented one revised budget (’21-’22) during the pandemic, and two annual budgets (’22–’23, ’23–’24) post-pandemic. Despite inheriting record deficits and debt ratios, we have invested in a record number of social welfare schemes as well as record capital spending, all while delivering record-setting fiscal improvements. This is the epitome of my public service, and indeed of my life”, PTR tweeted.

He further said that while fiscal consolidation and social spending are necessary steps for an equitable society, the drivers of development and growth are investment, enterprise expansion, and job creation.

“I am grateful that CM Stalin has now assigned me the portfolio of Information Technology — globally the number one industry for investment and job creation today. We know that technology shapes the future. Though Tamil Nadu was a pioneer in this field in Thalaivar Kalaignar’s time, we have unfortunately lagged our true potential in this sector in the last decade or so. I plan to build on the great efforts of my predecessor Mano Thangaraj to attract more investments, accelerate job creation, and deliver growth at a pace that will re-establish Tamil Nadu as a leading state in IT,” PTR’s tweet stated.

He also hoped that his experience in establishing and managing a pioneering global capability centre and the connectivity with the IT & ITES Industry gained in his professional career would help him in his new role.

“I wish the incoming Finance Minister Thennarasu great success and many more achievements as he assumes responsibility today. I am sure he will accelerate the progress already made and deliver new records in his tenure. I thank my leader CM Stalin again, both for providing me with the previous portfolio for two years, and this exciting new role to serve the people,” PTR stated.

Also Read: ‘Desperate attempt by blackmail gang,’ says PTR

Opposition reacts to PTR’s reshuffle

The Tamil Nadu BJP unit has sharply reacted to the change in PTR’s portfolio.

In a statement, BJP’s state Vice-President Narayanan Thirupathy said, “If Chief Minister Stalin does not accept that PTR was incompetent in handling the finance portfolio, then it is obvious that he was shifted for the audio leaks and people will believe that ₹30,000 crore wealth amassed by the DMK’s First Family is true. If he accepts so, then he has to apologise for appointing an incompetent person to manage the state’s finance.”

Opposition Leader and AIADMK General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami, while speaking to reporters in Salem, said that Stalin and the first family of DMK were scared of PTR, that he would reveal the details of looted money.

“That’s why they have retained and changed PTR’s portfolio, instead of removing him from the Cabinet,” Palaniswami said.

He further added that he had personally mentioned to Home Minister Amit Shah about PTR’s purported audio and the Union government is also much concerned about the details revealed in the audio. “AIADMK will do the needed in the audio leak issue,” he assured.

Also Read: TRB Rajaa gets into Stalin’s Cabinet, Dairy Minister Nasar dropped