DMK chief M K Stalin was sworn in as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister at Raj Bhavan on Friday. Reading out his full name — Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin — Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 68-year-old and his 33 ministers.
Unlike the swearing-in ceremony of former chief minister the late J Jayalalithaa in 2016, when the then opposition leader Stalin was initially given a back row seat, Stalin was seen giving prominence to former deputy CM O Panneerselvam and former Speaker P Dhanapal at the venue.
Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, senior judges and alliance party leaders including MDMK’s Vaiko and PCC chief K S Alagiri were among the chief guests at the event. Stalin’s wife Durga, his son and MLA Udayanidhi Stalin, daughter Senthamarai and son-in-law Sabareesan, along with stepsister and MP Kanimozhi were also present.
Dayanidhi Alagiri, the son of Stalin’s elder brother M K Alagiri was also present, though Alagiri, who wished Stalin on Thursday, did not attend the event.
Durga was in tears as Stalin, who waited patiently in his father’s shadow to emerge as the top leader of the DMK, took the oath for his first stint as CM.
There were conscious efforts from Stalin’s camp to kick-start the new government in a warm and cordial way. Stalin was seen inviting and sitting with Panneerselvam and Dhanapal after the swearing-in ceremony. While nobody touched his feet, the new CM was also seen greeting each and every cabinet colleague during their turns to take oath.
A day before the swearing-in ceremony, Stalin had visited veteran Tamil politicians such as senior CPI leader R Nallakannu (95) and CPI(M)’s N Sankariah (99) at their residences to seek blessings.
There were reports that Durga had insisted for a cabinet post for Dayanidhi, but Stalin suggested keeping it for a later stage.
After the swearing-in ceremony, Stalin visited his mother Dayalu Ammal at her Gopalapuram residence. He also visited Kanimozhi’s mother Rajathi Ammal, who was Karunanidhi’s third wife, at her residence where she was seen trying to prevent Stalin when he tried to touch her feet for blessings.
Stalin, along with his ministers, then headed to the memorials of former CMs C N Annadurai and Karunanidhi as well as that of social reformist E V Ramasamy “Periyar” to pay homage.
Soon after he assumed charge, Stalin issued five orders, including a decision to resume the financial assistance of Rs 2,000 each to the 2.07 crore ration card holders in the state. This would cost the state exchequer Rs 4,153.39 crore.
Another order said the Covid treatment expenses in private hospitals will be paid by the government under the state’s health insurance scheme, specifying that all kinds of treatments related to Covid-19 will be borne by the state under the scheme in private hospitals.
The government also issued an order by reducing Aavin milk prices by Rs 3 per litre from May 16, which was a poll promise of DMK. Facing an additional expenditure of Rs 1,200 crore as subsidy to the transport corporations, the government also ordered to permit free travel for women in ordinary services in town buses.
Addressing and resolving thousands of grievances he collected from 234 constituencies during his campaign trips titled “Ungal Thogudhiyil Stalin (Stalin in your constituency)” in the first 100 days of his regime was yet another poll promise. On Friday, Stalin issued an order to constitute a department to implement the promised scheme “Chief Minister in Your Constituency” headed by an IAS officer to handle it.
Stalin also appointed four senior bureaucrats as his secretaries — T Udhayachandran, who was the commissioner of archaeology at the forefront of large-scale excavations at Keeladi near Madurai; Dr P Umanath, who previously headed the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation; M S Shanmugam, who was shunted out of Tamil Nadu FibreNet Corporation Limited (TANFINET) by the previous AIADMK regime; and Anu George, the former protocol official of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
The government also issued orders to appoint senior IAS officer V Irai Anbu as the new Chief Secretary. The current CS Rajeev Ranjan has been transferred and posted as the MD of Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited.
Stalin began his political life aged 14 with the campaigns for state elections in 1967. He was part of the DMK general committee aged 20 in 1973 — one year after M G Ramachandran had quit the party and floated the AIADMK.
Arrested under MISA Act in 1975, Stalin acted in TV serials in the mid-1980s before becoming the mayor of Chennai city in 1996. He was also the deputy CM in the 2006-11 cabinet of his father and former CM, the late Karunanidhi.
In 2011 and 2016, Stalin won from the Kolathur constituency but the DMK was trounced in both elections.