TTV Dinakaran, nephew of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, and his wife were praying to “gomata” at his residence on Thursday morning when tax officials knocked on their door.What happened next is a countrywide search in residential and business properties of Sasikala and members of her extended family, which her detractors call the Mannargudi clan.The raids happened at 187 locations in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Bengaluru and New Delhi over suspected tax evasion and money laundering, officials said.The sleuths were also looking at financial trails and shell companies allegedly operated by those under the I-T scanner.The places searched included the ruling AIADMK’s mouthpiece Namadhu MGR, Jaya TV and Jazz Cinemas. Sources said I-T sleuths also visited the Poes Garden bungalow of the late chief minister and party chief, Jayalalithaa, which has now been taken over by the government.A posse of 1,800 taxmen were involved in the operation that began as early as 5am.There was not a word to police. Such was the secrecy associated with the exercise – christened Operation Black Money – that the tax detectives did not use official vehicles during their raid.The vehicles bore a sticker, “Srini Weds Mahi”, as if they were going for a wedding. Shortly after the officials landed at his house in Adyar in upmarket south Chennai, Dinakaran said the raids were politically motivated.“One I-T official came to my house. But there was no raid here. I had heard there was a raid at my farmhouse in Villupuram. But they will find nothing there,” he said.“My friends and lawyers reached the farmhouse, which is completely covered by CCTV. If they do anything, we will catch them,” he added, suggesting fears that officials may plant things to frame him.Dinakaran and Sasikala head a faction within the ruling AIADMK for control of the party. Chief minister E Palanisami and his deputy, O Panneerselvam, lead the other faction that is in power.The places raided are important for the AIADMK and its politics, besides the business establishments of Sasikala’s influential Mannargudi clan, named after a small town in Tiruvarur district where she was born.Dinakaran’s close aide and MLA Nanzil Sampath said the raids were an attempt by the Palanisami and Panneerselvam to take over Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR.Panneerselvam has been demanding control of the two media houses, but that has been difficult since they are private properties.A propaganda machine set up by AIADMK’s matriarch Jayalalithaa in the late 90s, Jaya TV is now owned by Sasikala and is looked after by her relatives in her absence. It was launched as a counter to Sun TV network that functioned like the in-house channel for the DMK.Similarly, Namadhu MGR is also under the effective control of Sasikala and her clan.Dinakaran is already facing trial in enforcement directorate cases. He is also an accused in the election commission bribery case in which he was jailed and is now out on bail.Sasikala is lodged in Bengaluru jail after being convicted in a disproportionate assets case.