Tamil Nadu Transport Minister RS Razakannappan has lost his heavyweight portfolio after allegations of harassment of a Dalit officer in Ramanathapuram. According to a press release issued by Raj Bhavan on March 29, Minister Rajakannappan’s transport portfolio has been allotted to Minister SS Shivasankar and Shivashankar’s portfolios including backward class welfare have been allotted to Rajakannappan.
The cabinet reshuffled for the first time since the formation of the DMK government led by Chief Minister MK Stalin in May 2021.
Political critics say the controversy and allegations against Razakannappan are the biggest reason for the portfolio change. The reason for the reshuffle was the allegation against Minister Rajakannappan for harassing Block Development Officer Rajendran, when the alleged incident took place on March 26. The minister used caste slander to harass a Dalit officer. So, CM Stalin, to teach him a lesson, assigned him a portfolio that looks after the welfare of the underprivileged community and their welfare, “the source said.
Meanwhile, this is not the first controversy of Razakannappan. He faced many allegations of corruption and over the years he changed several parties. He was a former minister in the first cabinet of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa from 1991 to 1996 and was accused in a disproportionate assets case. Rajakannappan was a member of AIADMK, founded by MGR in 1972. He left the AIADM in 1996 to oust his party, the Makkal Tamil Desam, but merged with the DMK in 2000. In 2006, he broke away from his party and joined the DMK. In 2009, he left the DMK again to join the AIADMK. More than a decade later, Kannapan rejoined the DMK in February 2020.
There are allegations of corruption against Rajakannappan
Diwali sweet box scandal
There have been allegations of misconduct in the tender to buy 100 tonnes of sweets and spices for transport officials and employees for the 2021 Diwali festival. In particular, the change of a company with a turnover of Rs. Avin disobeyed the order to buy all sweets for government employees, giving rise to Rs 100 crore, controversy and condemnation. It is noteworthy that Chief Minister Stalin intervened directly in this matter and instructed that the box of sweets should be purchased only from Avin Company.
Conflict with son and fellow officers
It was alleged that his son Naveen and some of his associates were involved in various departmental activities including tenders.
Controversy over attacking his associates
There are allegations that Razakannappan beat up his colleague, a government employee and a police officer on security duty late last year. However, the matter was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister and condemned.
Anti-corruption police raid on Transport Commissioner’s office
Minister Razakannappan was accused of allowing massive bribes in the transport sector at the regional transport office and at the transport commissioner’s office. On February 14, the Anti-Corruption Police raided the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Transport, Natarajan in Chennai and seized Rs 35 lakh. Apparently, Natarajan was transferred to Tirunelveli after allegations that the minister acted in a way to save Natarajan.
It was against this backdrop that Rajendran, 57, commissioner of Mudukulthur Panchayat Union in Ramanathapuram district, recently publicly accused Rajakannappan of repeatedly insulting him by giving him a ‘national name’. According to his statement, as soon as he entered the minister’s residence after receiving the summons, Rajakannappan repeatedly called him ‘SC (Scheduled Caste) BDO’ at least 5-6 times. “The incident left me deeply traumatized,” the officer said. Before raising the issue, Minister Rajakannappan’s portfolio was changed.
Subsequently, many Tamil Nadu politicians have condemned the move to change the minister’s portfolio instead of taking drastic action. In particular, AMTV chief TTV Dhinakaran said, “Does the Chief Minister think that Minister Rajakannappan, who has been the victim of multiple allegations, will become a saint if his portfolio is changed?” Has he come to power and said that if any minister makes a mistake, he will take appropriate action? Is this the Dravidian model that MK Stalin invented to create someone who has been accused of racist behavior – a backward class welfare minister who is supposed to uphold social justice? He tweeted. Meanwhile, AIADMK has been asked: Minister Rajakannappan’s portfolio change, gift or punishment?
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