ED raids Tamil Nadu minister’s residence, office; Stalin hits out at BJP | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

ED raids Tamil Nadu minister’s residence, office; Stalin hits out at BJP

Jun 14, 2023 01:01 AM IST

The action comes after I-T department raided over 40 places linked to the minister 2 weeks ago and after the Supreme Court allowed the ED to probe into an alleged cash-for-jobs scam against Balaji

Chennai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday conducted searches against Tamil Nadu minister for electricity, excise and prohibition Senthil Balaji, prompting chief minister MK Stalin to call the action “backdoor tactics of BJP against its political opponents”, and he found support from his ally Congress and his West Bengal and Delhi counterparts Mamata Banerjee Arvind Kejriwal.

Rapid Action Force personnel during the ED raid at Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji’s premises in Chennai on Tuesday. (PTI)
Rapid Action Force personnel during the ED raid at Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji’s premises in Chennai on Tuesday. (PTI)

ED officials raided the minister’s official residence in Chennai and his office in the state secretariat besides the premises in his native Karur and Erode. The action comes after the income-tax department raided more than 40 places across Tamil Nadu linked to the minister two weeks ago and after the Supreme Court in May allowed the ED to probe into an alleged cash-for-jobs scam against Balaji by overruling an order by the Madras high court in 2022. The case against Balaji pertains to allegations when he was the transport minister during the AIADMK-led government from 2011 to 2015 before he switched to the DMK.

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DMK’s organising secretary R S Bharathi, who was present in Balaji’s residence, questioned if the ED was targeting the minister since there was a power cut of 15 minutes after Union home minister Amit Shah came out of the Chennai airport on June 10. “This is happening after Amit Shah’s visit. They have an ulterior motive,” said Bharathi, adding that the raids are also a diversionary tactic since the BJP’s ally AIADMK is threatening to break the alliance. Balaji on Monday said the power cut during Shah’s visit was “accidental”, blaming the BJP for politicising the incident.

ED’s raid at the secretariat office of the minister “is a direct assault on the federal principle,” Stalin said. The West Bengal chief minister took to Twitter to condemn the “political vendetta” by the BJP against Tamil Nadu’s DMK government. “Misuse of central agencies continues,” Banerjee said. “ED raids in Tamil Nadu at the office of the minister for prohibition and excise at the state secretariat and his official residence are unacceptable. Desperate acts by BJP.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge described the raids as a form of harassment and intimidation by the Narendra Modi-led Union government. “Such gross misuse of investigative agencies against political opponents has been the hallmark of the Modi government,” Kharge said. “These tactics will not succeed in silencing the Opposition. They only reinforce its determination and resolve to continue its democratic struggle against the anti-people policies of the Modi government.”

The minister was on his morning walk when the raids began. “After my friends informed me about the raids, I cut my walk short and took a taxi here (home),” Balaji said. “Let’s see with what intention they have come to raid. Let them complete it,” he said, adding that necessary documents were submitted to the I-T department when they had conducted simultaneous searches against those close to him. “Whether it is I-T or ED, I will fully cooperate with them.”

The opposition AIADMK-BJP alliance has been demanding that the minister resign.

“The backdoor tactics of BJP against its political opponents will not yield the desired results,” Stalin said. “BJP will learn it the hard way soon. The silence of people who are watching BJP’s cheap acts of vindictive politics should not be underestimated. It is nothing but the calm before the storm of 2024 that will sweep BJP away.”

DMK leader Bharathi said he was not allowed to meet the minister who is also a district secretary in the party. “But, legally I’m his lawyer. I’ve appeared for him in several cases,” said Bharathi. “So, I have the right to meet him. I told officials that I will meet him in their presence for 10 minutes. I want to know what is happening. We are in the dark.”

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    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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