From Jaya to Senthil Balaji, TN politicians who paid the price of corruption

From Jaya to Senthil Balaji, TN politicians who paid the price of corruption

Chennai, Feb 4: Tamil Nadu can boast of several development milestones, but it is also weighed down by the millstone of big-ticket corruption that continues to rock the state.

The two Dravidian parties -- Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have been accused of fostering corruption and protecting corrupt leaders. Tamil Nadu has been seeing power alternating every five years between the DMK and AIADMK, but there was a marked change in 2016 when after a five-year stint in power from 2011 to 2016, the AIADMK retained power and continued till 2021, thanks to the disoriented DMK.

The latest senior politician to be accused of corruption in the state is the DMK minister without portfolio, V. Senthil Balaji, who has been in prison since June 2023 when he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a cash-for-jobs scam in which several job aspirants were allegedly duped by the minister and his associates, including his brother Asok Kumar.

The ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 and the minister was sent to Puzhal central prison in Chennai. However immediately after the arrest, Senthil Balaji complained of chest pain and on medical investigation at a government hospital in Chennai, it was found that he had three blocks in his coronary artery.

The minister was later operated upon at a private hospital and is now back in prison. His bail application was rejected for a 17th time by the Principal Sessions court of Chennai and now he is cooling his heels in the Puzhal prison.

It may be noted that the powerful Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, late J. Jayalalithaa who was a six-term Chief Minister of the state, was mired in corruption charges.

She was accused of misusing her office during her first tenure from 1991-1996 to amass properties worth Rs 364 crore and depositing the amount in her proxy accounts.

She was accused of amassing landed properties worth crores of rupees including farm houses, tracts of land and bungalows. The former Chief Minister was also charged for buying a tea estate in the Nilgiris, jewellery worth crores of rupees, posh cars and investments in several industries.

A special court of Chennai on September 27, 2014 found Jayalalithaa and her close associates guilty and she was to resign from Chief Minister’s post of Tamil Nadu.

However on May 11, 2015 Jayalalithaa was acquitted of all charges by the Madras High Court. The Supreme Court on February 15, 2017 upheld the verdict of the special court and convicted all.

Not to be left behind, DMK has its own share of corrupt politicians with the Maran brothers -- Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanithi Maran, the cousins of Chief Minister MK Stalin were charge sheeted by the CBI in an illegal telephone exchange case.

The illegal telephone exchange case dates back to when Dayanidhi Maran was Union telecom minister during the first UPA government from 2004 to 2007. The CBI accused Dayanidhi of misusing his office and installing a private telephone exchange at his Gopalapuram residence in Chennai as well as in his boat club during the period from 2004 to 2006.

The CBI accused the former Union minister of installing 764 high speed telecommunication lines at his residence to facilitate the illegal uplink of the Sun TV network.

The CBI has accused the Maran brothers of bringing a loss of Rs 1.76 crores to the exchequer through the illegal telecom connections for the benefit of Sun TV network.

The 2G spectrum scam rocked Tamil Nadu politics and Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, daughter of Kalaignar Karunaidhi, who is presently a Member of Parliament from Thoothukudi constituency, was charge sheeted by the CBI for having colluded with then Telecom minister and Union Minister, A. Raja to transfer an amount of around Rs 2 billion to the coffers of Kalaignar TV.

She was also charged with tax evasion by the Income Tax department in Chennai. Kanimozhi was booked under criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B), cheating (Section 420) and forgery (Sections 468 and 471) and was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Kanimozhi was arrested by the CBI on May 20, 2011 and granted bail on November 28, 2011 after 188 days of custody.

Former Union telecom Minister and DMK leader A. Raja was also charge sheeted by the CBI for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery and booked by the CBI under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Raja was arrested by the CBI on February 2, 2011 and granted bail on May 15, 2012.

The BJP state president, K. Annamalai has already released DMK files and pointed the figure of accusation against the first family of the DMK. He has charged that Stalin’s son and Tamil Nadu minister for Sports development and Youth Affairs, Udayanidhi Stalin and his brother-in-law Sabareesan had amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore and called for an investigation by the Central agencies.

Annamalai also released DMK files II and DMK files III in which he alleged that the senior DMK ministers have indulged in looting money to the tune of thousands of crores.

Tamil super star Vijay who has launched his new political party, Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam (TVK) and one of the main planks that he had announced was his fight against corruption.

He publicly said that he would not compromise on corruption and one of the main focus of the party was to eradicate the culture of corruption from the state of Tamil Nadu.

C. Rajeev, Director, Centre for Policy and Development Studies, while speaking to IANS said, "The DMK and AIADMK have both been involved in corruption and there has to be a new political formulation in the state that can stand up against corruption and the menace it has brought to the Tamil society. The BJP state president K. Annamalai seems to be a crusader against corruption and the general public must support him in this endeavour and his fight against corruption -- a menace that is threatening the day to day life of the people of Tamil Nadu.”

(The content of this article is sourced from a news agency and has not been edited by the ap7am team.)

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