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Home > News > PTI

Selvi: A long journey to the corridors of power

May 18, 2007 11:52 IST

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From a housewife in a sleepy southern Tamil Nadu village to the corridors of power in Delhi, it has been a long journey but a dramatic ascent for 31-year-old Radhika Selvi who was on Friday inducted into the Union council of ministers.

Widow of an alleged don and first-time MP from Tiruchendur, Selvi finds herself catapulted to the high post, the road to which was opened by DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran's resignation as Union IT and Communication Minister and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's bid to consolidate his party's vote base among the powerful backward Nadar community.

Selvi, a post-graduate in English Literature who hails from Valliyoor village of Tiruchendur district, plunged into politics soon after the killing of her husband Venkatesa Pannaiyar in a police encounter in Chennai in 2003 during the All India Anna Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam rule.

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.

The Nadar community 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 Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam.

The Nadar community also is unhappy that none of their members is in the Manmohan Singh government and there have been demands that former 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, who recently announced that he would be floating a political party before the year-end, among the Nadar community.

Despite murmurs of dissent in the party's local unit, Selvi was made the DMK 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 with 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.

For her part, Selvi has said there was a consistent "false propaganda" that her husband had a criminal record.

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