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Jayalalithaa set to return as Tamil Nadu CM

Chennai: With all eyes on the much awaited swearing in ceremony later this week of AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the state cabinet is also likely to be expanded. AIADMK sources also hint at changes in the portfolios of some ministers.

“Three portfolios are lying vacant and are being taken care of as additional charge by incumbent ministers. With elections scheduled next year there are possibilities of a cabinet expansion now,” a highly placed source said.

 “Names of former ministers K. A. Sengottayan, Nainar Nagendran, Pollachi Jayaraman, Villupuram strongman C. V. Shanmugham and former speaker D. Jayakumar are making the rounds among party circles” said a ruling party legislator. He explained that all these party seniors are old timers whose ‘connect’ with their cadre in their respective zones is strong.

All 155 ruling party MLAs have been instructed by party headquarters to stay in Chennai.

The Panneerselvam led cabinet has 30 ministers while Ms Jayalalithaa had up to 33 ministers in her cabinets since 2011. Former minister Agri Krishanmurthy, arrested in connection with the suicide of a government engineer, was handling the agriculture portfolio, which is now additionally held by housing minister R. Vaithilingam.

Local administration and rural development minister S. P. Velumani has been holding law, courts and prisons as additional charges for the last several months. Similarly, food minister R. Kamaraj has been holding the Hindu Religious and Endowments portfolio for the past few months, which was earlier held by Chendur P. Pandian, who has been hospitalised since this January.

Meanwhile, hospital sources attending Chendur Pandian (minister without portfolio), maintained that Pandian continues to be critical and is on a ventilator showing no signs of improvement.



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