CHENNAI: Two leaders with links to Tamil Nadu were among those who took the oath along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the hallowed forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday.
While Nirmala Sitharaman was born in Tiruchy, but she spent a large part of her adult life in other parts of the country, Pon Radhakrishnan’s roots in the southernmost tip of the country brings a geographic roundedness to Modi’s team on paper.
Nirmala has been sworn in as a Minister of State with Independent Charge, and her portfolio is yet to be made public.
As a national spokesperson of the BJP for over four years, Nirmala has become a familiar face through her regular participation in television news shows.
She did her graduation from a college in Tiruchy before going on to complete an MPhil in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Having JNU, usually perceived as a fount of thought and activism for the Indian Left, for an alma mater puts Nirmala in a sparsely populated club within the BJP.
She has been based in Hyderabad for many years, where she lives with her husband Parakala Prabhakar, who has achieved celebrity in his own right as a political commentator and television personality in Andhra Pradesh.
The other Tamil Nadu connection in Modi’s team is Pon Radhakrishnan. An RSS member for many years, he has risen through the party ranks.
Radhakrishnan hails from a prominent Hindu Nadar family of Nagercoil, a town less than an hour’s drive from Kanyakumari, the southern tip of the Indian mainland.
Radhakrishnan will have to resign his post as Tamil Nadu State president of his party, now that he has taken oath as Minister of State. He won from Kanyakumari in 1999 and was part of the NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Other faces from Tamil Nadu are likely to be appointed to various commissions and boards of the Union government. These will not be restricted to the BJP alone, but will be from the party’s allies in the State as well.
The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) is the only ally to have won a seat in Tamil Nadu and will have to be given a posting, in view of the fact that Anbumani Ramadoss had been denied a Cabinet berth as he has a CBI case pending against him.
The DMDK, Puthiya Neethi Katchi and Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi could also get posts.