CHENNAI: The real challenge for debutant minister Udhayanidhi Stalin begins now. Facing flak from critics for securing a ministerial berth within a year into his maiden term as MLA, Stalin junior has the job of demonstrating his administrative prowess to silence sceptics calling his elevation hasty.
He also has the task of not allowing the usual party poopers around the power centres to embarrass the party and its government.
Understandably, Udhayanidhi made a sensible decision in quitting the acting business to focus full time on his ministerial responsibilities. Even DMK insiders gleefully admitted that his decision to quit acting was a big relief and it would spare a great deal of criticism from the opposition. In the same breath, he is under pressure now to showcase his talent as an administrator.
Stalin pulled a leaf out of his own book by deputing an able team of bureaucrats, Udhayachandran, Amutha and Atulya Misra to ensure that his son shines bright. A little over a decade ago, then chief minister M Karunanidhi had successfully roped in IAS officers Ashok Vardhan Shetty and K Deenabandhu to back Stalin who headed the municipal administration department during the previous DMK regime.
A senior party leader unwilling to be quoted said that the new minister must emulate his father and make sure that he does not create a parallel power centre and allow a coterie to build around him. “It could easily spoil the reputation of the minister and the government. Udhay must stay insulated like his father did in the 2006-11 DMK regime. Remember, even while the party faced charges of arrogance and excesses because of some second rung leaders and members of the influential family then, Stalin did not spoil his reputation a great deal then. A good number of sidekicks would try to gather around the young minister to extract benefits. Udhay must be wary of such elements. He is not the CM's influential MLA son any more. He is a minister whose every move would be watched now, ” the leader said.
Professor Ramu Manivannan, former HoD of department of political science, Madras University, says: “I do not understand the urgency. Unlike Stalin, who is a thoroughbred politician, Udhayanidhi has been elevated in a very short while. What experience does he have? He must demonstrate his administrative prowess within a time frame. The opposition will not spare him. However, the cat is out of the bag now. The leadership has spelt out that he is the political successor of Stalin. His elevation will create an axis of power. Now, the seniors and leaders will warm up to him and in turn it will win the loyalty of the party seniors gradually. His initiation as the successor has begun with the induction into the cabinet. Ideally, he should have been made the Mayor before his induction into the cabinet like his father, which would have been appropriate. Whatever challenge he faces would also become the party’s challenges henceforth.”