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Home > News > PTI

DMK's Radhika Selvi set to join Union Cabinet

May 16, 2007 00:26 IST

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Radhika Selvi, who is set to be inducted into the Union Cabinet on May 18, has come a long way from being the widow of an alleged don.

Dayanidhi Maran's resignation as Union IT and Communication Minister has opened the window of opportunity for Selvi, a first-time MP from Tiruchendur in southern Tamil Nadu.

She will be sworn in as a minister of state in the Manmohan Singh government on May 18, a Tamil Nadu government press release said. 

Selvi will be sworn in at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan on Friday at 0930 hours, the release said, quoting a communication from the Prime Minister's Office.

The state government release said the portfolio for Selvi would be announced later.

Selvi, a post-graduate in English literature, plunged into politics seeking justice for the killing of her husband Venkatesa Panniyar, an alleged don who was shot dead by police in an encounter at his Chennai residence in 2003.

Hailing from a well-off family from Tuticorin district, Panniyar was wanted in more than 20 cases, including extortion and holding of kangaroo courts.

Police then said he was killed after he opened fire when they had gone to arrest him.

Members of Panniyar's backward Nadar community, which constitutes a dominant population in the southern districts of the state, was upset over the killing and had been demanding a judicial probe into it.

Selvi, who was pregnant when her husband was shot dead, vowed to avenge the killing and joined the DMK.

She was made the party's candidate from Tiruchendur during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls when she campaigned with her newborn baby in her arms and won the elections with a good margin.

Selvi was known for her proximity to DMK chief Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi and political observers feel it might have been one of the reasons for naming her as the Union Minister to fill the vacancy created by Maran's exit.

The DMK's decision to make her a central minister was also an apparent move to win over the Nadar vote bank.

The community was upset that none of MPs from southern districts had been inducted in the Manmohan Singh ministry.

There had been demands that then DMK Rajya Sabha MP and film actor Sarathkumar be named a Union Minister.

The DMK's move was also aimed at curbing the growing influence of Sarathkumar among the Nadar community members.

Sarathkumar had recently announced that he would be floating a political party before the year-end.

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