Dayanidhi Maran, who had lost his Communications and IT ministry after he fell out with the first family of his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, may yet end up without a ministry even after patching up with Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, party sources have indicated.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister who reached New Delhi on Tuesday, met Congress President Sonia Gandhi to discuss the allocation of ministries.
While the DMK is aiming for three Cabinet berths, the Congress is inclined to give only two. The DMK with 18 MPs is the second largest ally, next to Trinamool Congress, which has 19.
It is said that top billing will go to his elder son M K Azhagiri, who debuted with a huge win from his south Tamil Nadu stronghold Madurai.
Karunanidhi might demand shipping and surface transport for Azhagiri.
The party had set a dare of sorts for Azhagiri by not only fielding him in Madurai but also giving him the responsibility of winning 10 other southern constituencies. And he delivered. Among his scalps was Vaiko. In fact, in his interactions with the cadre during campaigning, he had laid as much emphasis on defeating Vaiko in Virudhanagar as much as he did on himself winning in Madurai. His supporters within the party will now only settle for a big ticket ministry. It is the shipping and roadways ministry under which the contentious Sethu Samudram Project will also fall.
If that happens, the DMK is hoping to squeeze for T R Baalu, who held the ministry earlier, the post of deputy speaker in the Lok Sabha.
After, Azhagiri, it would be Kanimozhi, whom Karunanidhi is expected to favour. It is said that the Rajya Sabha MP might get either tourism or the health ministry, held incidentally by former ally PMK chief S Ramadoss's son, Anbumani, who was also a Rajya Sabha member.
If at all the Congress agrees to give the DMK a third Cabinet berth, it is expected to be a toss up between Maran and the man who replaced him as IT and telecom minister, A Raja, who was involved in the spectrum allocation controversy. Even if Raja pips Maran to the third berth, he is expected to be sent back to the forests and environment ministry. It is said that the Congress leadership is not too happy over the manner in which he invited trouble when he was IT minister.
If indeed Karunanidhi keeps Maran out, it will serve two purposes: retribution for going against the family, albeit momentarily, and also keep out charges of absolute nepotism in the Cabinet.
Among ministers of state, S S Palanimanickkam is expected to retain his slot in the finance ministry.