T.N. Minister Senthilbalaji arrest | CM Stalin warns BJP about provoking DMK

Slamming the BJP for its ‘political vendetta’ in the arrest of the Electricity Minister, Mr. Stalin, in a video message, asked the BJP to go through history for an idea of the kind of protests the DMK could organise; he said he was not opposed to an inquiry against Mr. Senthilbalaji but objected to the manner in which this had been carried out

Updated - June 15, 2023 09:56 pm IST

Published - June 15, 2023 04:28 pm IST - CHENNAI

A video grab of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin speaking with regard to the arrest of Minister V. Senthilbalaji

A video grab of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin speaking with regard to the arrest of Minister V. Senthilbalaji | Photo Credit: PTI

Reiterating that Electricity Minister V. Senthilbalaji was tortured by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) due to political vendetta, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Thursday, June 15, 2023, warned the BJP that it would not be able to bear the consequences if it provoked the DMK and its party cadre.

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Mr. Senthilbalaji who was arrested early on the morning of June 14, 2023, has been remanded to judicial custody till June 28. His arrest followed 18 hours of investigation, and searches conducted by the ED at his office at the State secretariat as well as premises linked to him, in connection with a money laundering case. He was subsequently admitted to the Government Multi Super-Specialty Hospital, Omandurar, where he underwent a coronary angiogram and was advised surgery at the earliest.

“Go through history to know the kind of protests organised by the DMK. Just ask the senior leaders in Delhi about us. We also know politics. I am not issuing a threat. This is a warning,” the CM said in a video message, ‘Ungalil Oruvan.’

Mr. Stalin said Mr. Senthilbalaji was unjustifiably tortured by the ED and no one was left in doubt about the fact that this was an act of political vendetta. “They have taken up a 10-year-old case and locked him up in a room for 18 hours. They tortured him mentally and caused him to suffer a fatal heart disease. There can’t be a more blatant incident of political vendetta than this,” he said.

‘Not against inquiry’

Making it clear that he was not opposed to an inquiry against Mr. Senthilbalaji if there was a case and a court order, the Chief Minister wondered what was the need to treat the Minister like a terrorist, locking him in a room.

“He is not an ordinary man who can run away. He is an elected member of the Assembly. He is a five-time MLA and a two-time Minister and attends public events regularly. He fully cooperated with the ED officials when they wanted to interrogate him. He also promised to give a clear explanation if any documents were seized. What was the need to keep him in a room for 18 hours, not being allowed to meet anyone,” he further asked.

The Chief Minister said the ED officials took Mr. Senthilbalaji to hospital only after he developed chest pain. “If they had remained indifferent to his health, it could have cost the Minister his life,” he added.

Mr. Stalin also questioned the haste shown by the ED in questioning Mr. Senthilbalaji. “Is the country facing an undeclared emergency? The act of the ED seems to indicate it is. It is simple. The BJP has used the ED for its political game. The BJP is not ready to meet people and operate politically. The people are also not ready to trust the BJP. People will have faith in a party only if it is involved in people politics. The BJP’s politics is anti-people,” he said.

‘Central agencies used to settle scores’

Accusing the BJP of making use of the Income Tax department, CBI and Enforcement Directorate to settle scores with those the party could challenge politically and ideologically, Mr. Stalin said the BJP always resorted to intimidation.

“This is the BJP’s style and its only style. They are taking these anti-democratic measures across the country. They have the same script and dub it according to the needs of each State,” he said, detailing how the BJP had arrested leaders of the opposition in various States.

The CM said there would be no raids in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, because these States were ruled by the “impeccable BJP.” “The Central agencies do not know these States. These wings of the BJP have raided all the political leaders who have opposed it. They also brought to submission, their political slaves, the AIADMK with the help of the central agencies,” he charged.

Pointing out that only 112 raids were conducted in the country before BJP came to power, Mr. Stalin said there were 3,000 raids carried out at places linked to opposition leaders after it assumed office. “But only 0.05 per cent cases have been proved. All the other raids were conducted with the objective of intimidation, and to cause fear. Those who faced raids became saints after joining the the BJP. Congress leader Sashi Tharoor has released the list of such saints,” he quipped.

‘AIADMK brought to submission’

Mr. Stalin wondered whether the Central agencies filed chargesheets or obtained punishments in courts after they conducted raids in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to make the AIADMK the “BJP’s slave.”

“Why are the Central agencies not coming forward to conduct inquiries in cases filed against the AIADMK Ministers by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption? We have conducted raids and filed chargesheets against former AIADMK Ministers. We are ready to submit the documents. But Union Home Minister Amit Shah [went ahead and] met them in Delhi,” he said.

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