Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

AIADMK MLAs caught in sting deny receiving money

A view of the office of Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan. File   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

In a dramatic revelation, two legislators belonging to the rival factions of the AIADMK have been caught on camera claiming that money and even gold was offered to MLAs to support the Sasikala camp in February after the rebellion by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

However, Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan (AIADMK-PTA) and Sulur MLA R. Kanagaraj (AIADMK-Amma), who were caught on tape in an alleged joint sting operation by two television channels, did not provide any evidence of the bribery.

After the television channels aired the footage, the two legislators, individually, claimed to The Hindu that they did not receive any money.

Series of claims

In the grainy video footage, Mr. Saravanan, in a conversation with Shawnawaz Khan of Tamil television channel Moon TV, is heard making a series of claims about money being offered to MLAs who were herded on to buses and taken to the Golden Bay resorts in Koovathur after Mr. Panneerselvam’s rebellion.

 

“When we boarded the bus, they said 2 [₹2 crore] and then they said 4 [₹4 crore] before it reached Kuvathur. They then said 6 [₹6 crore] after reaching the resort. Had they given the money in the same instant, nobody would have moved,” he is heard claiming. “In the end, it was good that I moved to the OPS camp. They said they will give me a seat [to contest elections] next time around and they will take care of my expenses.”

Allegations denied

When contacted, he claimed that he had not seen the tapes as he was travelling, but saw snippets sent to him on WhatsApp. “This does look like a sting operation. But I have not taken any money. I am not aware if others took money,” he said.

Mr. Kanagaraj denied having made any statement implying that the Sasikala camp had promised money and gold to legislators in return for their support. He claimed that he had never told anybody that either he or other MLAs were given money while they were at the Golden Bay resorts.

He also denied receiving money to extend support to the Chief Minister during the trust vote. “I am yet to watch the TV footage,” he added.

(With inputs from T.K. Rohit in Chennai and Karthik Madhavan in Coimbatore.)

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 12:57:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sting-operation-on-mlas-creates-flutter/article18968038.ece

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