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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Poes Garden raid: The political landscape in Tamil Nadu is getting more murky

The raid at Poes Garden, when read with the raids last week targeting Sasikala, Narendra Modi’s meeting with Karunanidhi and other political developments, give a picture of political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu

analysis Updated: Nov 18, 2017 22:22 IST
Viju Cherian
Viju Cherian
Hindustan Times
Police and media persons out side the former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's residence at Poes Garden where an IT raid was conducted on Friday night
Police and media persons out side the former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's residence at Poes Garden where an IT raid was conducted on Friday night (PTI)

Veda Nilayam, former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s house in Chennai, was the hotspot on Friday night as income tax officials conducted a raid. Officials seized electronic storage devices, which they claimed was in connection to a probe against AIADMK leader VK Sasikala.

Last week IT raids were conducted at 187 business establishments and residences of people considered close to Sasikala. Media reports suggested that undisclosed income of more than Rs 1,000 crore was detected in these.

There’s often a misplaced perception that ruling parties misuse State apparatuses to settle political scores. To an extent that is happening here. The IT department should be lauded for its efforts to fight financial corruption. The series of IT raids, as Hindustan Times had explained, could weaken the ‘Mannargudi mafia’ .

But why didn’t these raids against Sasikala take place when Jayalaithaa was alive? Is it a coincidence that these raids are only targeting Sasikala and her faction within the AIADMK? Did the raids at Jaya TV have to do with the fact that the news channel is critical of the EPS-OPS ruling combine? That these raids are taking place now, when the targeted parties (Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran) have fallen out with the ruling faction of the AIADMK raises more questions.

These unanswered questions give the impression that what’s happening now is more of a political vendetta than a fight against corruption. And this could swing public opinion in favour of Sasikala. The raid at Poes Garden could backfire if it is seen as an effort to tarnish the name of the late chief minister. That could be a reason why IT officials were at pains to explain that only Sasikala’s rooms and that of Jayalalithaa’s secretary S Poongundran were searched.

Two other parallel developments also need to be noted.

First, was a ‘courtesy call’ by Prime Minister Narenda Modi made on ailing DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi in Chennai. The political message in the meeting cannot be missed. Modi’s visit comes at a time when the state BJP unit is unable to get its act right, and when many are realising that the EPS-OPS combine did not merit the political significance it was given.

Two, on November 14, Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit met with government officials in Coimbatore. A governor directly meeting state officials (bypassing the government) was seen, especially by Opposition parties, as an effort by the BJP at the Centre to extend its influence in Tamil Nadu. Such a meeting, at a time when the EPS-OPS government’s majority is not clear (as 18 MLAs have been suspended), raises questions about whether the Centre is mulling the dismissal of the AIADMK government.

The raid at Poes Garden and these political developments, when read together, paint a picture of political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu, a state which has many times in the past played a crucial role in deciding the government at the Centre.


First Published: Nov 18, 2017 16:44 IST

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