Vajpayee shows a generous hand to Jayalalitha in new portfolio allocation
George Iype in New Delhi
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday completed the process of allocating portfolios to his ministers of
And, in an attempt to placate his crucial ally, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary J Jayalalitha,
the prime minister entrusted her nominees -- R K Kumar and R Janarathanan -- with two key portfolios.
While Kumar is the new minister of state for finance and holds the key departments of revenue, banking and
insurance with additional charge of parliamentary affairs, Janarathanan is minister of state for personnel, public
grievances and pension.
Insiders said Jayalalitha, who bargained hard on the finance portfolio for her party, has succeeded in
virtually bifurcating the ministry with her confidant and chartered accountant Kumar taking charge of
revenue, banking and insurance.
By winning over the crucial finance departments, the AIADMK leader, who is fighting a number of
corruption cases, will succeed in two of her missions.
First, this enables her to initiate action against former finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and Tamil Maanila Congress president G K
Moopanar who she has alleged are involved in the Indian Bank controversy. Second, she could prevent the Enforcement Directorate from proceeding against her associate Sasikala Natarajan. The ED operates under the revenue department's jurisdiction.
Janarathanan is also expected to provide protection to the AIADMK chief as the Central Bureau of Investigation is under the supervision of the ministry of
personnel, public grievances and pensions.
As for the other portfolios, Vajpayee has made Vasundhara Raje his deputy in the ministry of
external affairs. But he has also made the BJP's Yuva Morcha president Uma Bharti minister of state in the ministry of
human resource development under Dr Murli Manohar Joshi -- and given the history of animosity between them, it could be checkmate in the HRD ministry.
The prime minister has given independent charges to four ministers of state -- PMK leader Dalit Ezhilmalai,
Independent Maneka Gandhi, the BJP's MP from Belgaum, Babagouda Patil, and Biju Janata Dal leader Dilip Ray. While Ezhilmalai
got health and family welfare, Gandhi has been allocated welfare, Patil rural development and Ray, coal.
Green activist Gandhi is said to have bargained hard for the ministry of environment and forests, but the prime
minister has instead entrusted with her independent charge of the welfare ministry.
Gandhi told Rediff On The NeT she was "happy that a most important portfolio like welfare has been allocated to me with independent charge."
She said she did not bargain for the MoEF. "I have been an environmentalist all
these years. So everybody wishes to see me as a minister for environment and forests," she added.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang 's son Omak Apang -- who celebrated his 27th birthday on March 11 -- is minister of state for tourism and Punjab Chief Minister
Parkash Singh Badal's son Sukhbir Singh Badal is the minister of state for industry.
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