Chennai: In the first such move after assuming charge in May post her acquittal in a wealth case, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today axed Transport Minister V Senthil Balaji from her cabinet, besides stripping him of a powerful party post.
Governor K Rosaiah has accepted the recommendation of the Chief Minister to drop V Senthil Balaji, Minister for Transport, from the Council of Ministers, a Raj Bhavan release here said.
He also “accepted” Jayalalithaa's recommendation to allocate “Transport, Nationalised Transport and Motor Vehicles Act,” portfolios held by Balaji to Industries Minister P Thangamani “with immediate effect,” it said. Thangamani has now been designated as Minister for Industries and Transport, it said.
Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa also removed Balaji as party's District Secretary of Karur.
“V Senthil Balaj is being relieved from the Karur District Secretary post,” she said in a party statement. She announced that Thangamani will handle the affairs of the party in Karur till someone else is appointed. No reasons were attributed for the action against Balaji, who represents Karur Assembly segment. Balaji had held Transport portfolio since the AIADMK government under Jayalalithaa took over in 2011.
Interestingly, Balaji's name, among some other senior leaders, had been doing the rounds as Jayalalithaa's pick to replace her following her conviction in an assets case by a Bengaluru special court in September last.
However, she had nominated party Treasurer and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, often described as her ‘Man Friday,' to be her replacement.
The AIADMK supremo was later acquitted by Karnataka High Court, following which she returned as Chief Minister. Balaji was among those whom she had retained in her cabinet.
Balaji was at the forefront of prayers held for the release of Jayalalithaa in the case, even carrying firepot and tonsuring his head after she was acquitted in an act of fulfilling his vow if she was acquitted.