T.N. Minister Senthilbalaji arrest | No political motives, Stalin should check his earlier statements on Minister’s corruption: BJP leader Annamalai

The T.N. BJP leader said CM Stalin himself had, in 2016, made corruption allegations against Mr. Senthilbalaji, who was then the AIADMK’s transport minister; he urged the CM to remove Mr. Senthilbalaji from the State Cabinet

June 14, 2023 04:38 pm | Updated June 15, 2023 09:51 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai addressing a press conference in Chennai on June 14, 2023

Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai addressing a press conference in Chennai on June 14, 2023 | Photo Credit: ANI

Refuting charges that Tamil Nadu’s Minister for Electricity V. Senthilbalaji’s arrest was politically motivated, Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 said Chief Minister M.K. Stalin should refer to his own earlier statements, where he had made the same allegations against the Minister for which he has been arrested now.

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Mr. Annamalai was referring to the corruptions allegations made by Mr. Stalin in 2016 against Mr. Senthilbalaji who was the Transport Minister during the AIADMK regime, from 2011 to 2015.

Addressing the media, Mr. Annamalai said the arrest followed the Supreme Court’s orders, reprimanding the alleged attempts to dilute the case against Mr. Senthilbalaji and allowing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to continue its probe.

Mr. Annamalai alleged that Mr. Stalin had defended the powers of the Income Tax Department when it conducted searches at the Secretariat when the AIADMK was in power in 2016. That being the case, he asked how could Mr. Stalin oppose the ED conducting a search at the Minister’s chamber at the Secretariat now.

The BJP leader criticised Mr. Stalin and other Ministers for visiting Mr. Senthilbalaji at the hospital and urged Mr. Stalin to relieve Mr. Senthilbalaji from the Cabinet. He added that the reaction from the DMK was not as strong even when DMK MP Kanimozhi was arrested on corruption charges in 2011. “Today, [virtually] the entire Cabinet is visiting him [Mr. Senthilbalaji] at the hospital,” he said.

On the criticism that the ED did not follow due process during the arrest, he said the ED was a professional organisation and he was confident it would present all necessary documents to prove otherwise in the Madras High Court.

AIADMK alliance

Mr. Annamalai dismissed the possibility that the people would see it as a contradiction that the BJP, while opposing corruption in Tamil Nadu, continued to be an ally of the AIADMK, which was the ruling party when Mr. Senthilbalaji indulged in his alleged corruption as a Minister.

While claiming that the BJP was committed to making Tamil Nadu free of corruption, he said there was no contradiction in its alliance with the AIADMK. Alliances were about “unequal” political parties with “different qualities” coming together

Stating that the AIADMK-BJP alliance was intact, he said Union Home Minister Amit Shah in fact wanted to meet AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami during his recent visit to Tamil Nadu, but the meeting did not happen as the latter was undergoing treatment for a medical problem.

On the recent tensions in the AIADMK-BJP alliance, he said his statements were misunderstood. Referring to his allusory remarks on late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s conviction in a corruption case, he said that he had only pointed out what had happened. He stressed that he had spoken highly of Jayalalithaa on several occasions and had never intended to defame her.

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