Former chief minister and senior party leader O Panneerselvam, Natham Viswanathan, C Ve Shanmugam, K A Sengottiyan, Gokula Indira, R Rajalakshmi, D Jayakumar, S Karuppasamy, Pollachi Jayaraman, V Senthil Balaji, Sellur K Raju, Nainar Nagendran, Essaki Subbiyah and A Patchimal are likely to be inducted into the new ministry.
Pazha Karuppiah, who was elected from Harbour constituency, is likely to be the speaker of the 14th assembly. The newly elected MLAs are likely to meet at the party headquarters on Sunday where Jayalalithaa will be formally elected leader of the legislature party.
AIADMK had said in February 2011 that if elected, it would move the government back to the historical structure, which was the seat of power in the state until 2010. The move puts a question mark over the fate of the new secretariat constructed at a cost of Rs 1,200 crore under the DMK regime.
However, historians, conservationists and former bureaucrats welcomed the proposal, saying Fort St George provided a historical setting suitable for governance. ”It carries a legacy and has been the place from where legislatures have functioned since India attained Independence,” said a historian.
Fort St George was the gateway to the subcontinent for the British in India. The East India Company founded a trading settlement at the site in the 17th century before consolidating its rule over the region.
The administration under M Karunanidhi’s rule had shifted from the building to the new secretariat citing space constraints. However, the new facility on Anna Salai is far from ready and has been a subject of controversy for its architectural style and scope.
PWD secretary K Dhanavel and other senior officials have already begun to speed up repair works at the Fort. The chief minister’s office, which was in disuse for months, is being restored to have it ready before May 16. Workers were busy fixing the room’s false ceiling when a TOI team visited the building.
The AIADMK chief will call on the Governor on Sunday morning to stake her claim to form the government. She is likely to be sworn in on Monday along with a 30-member cabinet. Party veterans who have served in previous AIADMK regimes would get ministerial posts, officials said. Their offices would be renovated as well.
Among senior bureaucrats, chief secretary S Malathi has already shifted back to the old secretariat. Similarly, other departments including public, PWD, rural development and municipal administration are also being relocated to the old premises.
Senior police officials visited Fort St George on Saturday to review security arrangements. It was on the last day of the interim budget session of the 13th assembly in February this year that then deputy opposition leader O Paneerselvam said that Jayalalithaa would function out of Fort St George as chief minister.
A library for classical Tamil, instituted inside the assembly hall in the Fort, will also move now. Library coordinator K Sivamani told TOI, ”Senior officials came to the library on Saturday morning and promised to provide us alternative space for the library. It will be shifted soon.”
“Thalaivar (leader) is very upset over the results. He didn’t expect this kind of a defeat. He sought reasons for the massive defeat,” a DMK MLA from southern Tamil Nadu told TOI. DMK won a mere 22 of the 119 seats it contested and 17 of its 28 ministers lost.
As murmurs blaming Raja and Kanimozhi for the debacle get louder, many of these defeated ministers say they paid for the 2G effect.
While Raja’s future in the party appears hazy, Kanimozhi’s political career graph appears to have plummeted. When her Rajya Sabha term ends in two years, the DMK might not have the numbers to re-nominate her. And given the family dynamics, there could be a clamour among family members to keep her out.
Close family, including Karunanidhi’s older son and Union minister M K Alagiri as well as younger son and state deputy chief minister M K Stalin, had advised their father to distance himself from the issue. They had pointed out the scam could erode the goodwill painstakingly built over five years of welfare measures and freebies for the poor. But Karunanidhi opted to stand by his daughter and erstwhile confidant Raja. Besides adopting a party resolution backing Raja, Karunanidhi deputed senior leaders to travel across the state on a ‘defend Raja’ campaign.
“We worked hard for our victory. Arithmetically and politically our alliance was stronger than theAIADMK alliance. But we could retain only two seats in the northern belt. The reason has to be the 2G spectrum scam. It has been in the limelight for more than a year and is bound to have influenced voters,” said a minister who was defeated in northern Tamil Nadu.
When the opposition’s campaign focussed on the 2G spectrum scam and corruption there was little resistance from Karunanidhi. The leader, who is normally quick to issue statements, also retreated into a shell soon after the first trends indicated sure defeat for his party. Except for a feeble, one-line reaction that people of Tamil Nadu had decided to give him rest, the DMK supremo, who had been the most vociferous supporter of Raja and his daughter all through the spectrum development, is yet to issue his usual epistle to cadres or a lengthy media statement on his party’s poor showing.
“The reasons for our party’s big defeat were discussed even in the counting centres by DMK agents. Many blamed the spectrum issue and dynastic politics,” said an advocate who worked as an agent for a DMK candidate in Chennai.
“Our people have started talking about the 2G corruption case. The issue is now an open topic for debate even among partymen.”