Officials of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti- Corruption (DVAC) held multi-city searches on the premises of two AIADMK former ministers in connection with two different cases of alleged irregularities.
AIADMK interim chief K Palaniswami alleged the searches were held to “divert” attention from the “opposition” to the ruling DMK over the revised power tariff that came into effect last week.
Searches were held on 31 premises belonging to AIADMK leader S P Velumani, a party strongman from Coimbatore, over a case of replacing existing streetlight with LED lights in rural areas during 2015-18.
DVAC registered a criminal case against him and 9 others over the allegation that he abused his official position in awarding tenders injudiciously to his closely associated companies in replacing the lights.This has caused loss to the Exchequer approximately Rs 500 crore, a DVAC release said. The FIR was registered under sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Based on the FIR, searches were held at locations, including in Coimbatore, Chennai and Tiruchirappalli. The release said Rs 32.98 lakh in cash, 1,228 gm of gold jewels and 10 four-wheelers were “identified.” It added 316 incriminating documents were seized.However, the former minister claimed nothing incriminating was found from his house and insisted the action was a result of “political vendetta.” Hearing the news of searches, a large number of AIADMK workers and leaders gathered in front of Velumani’s house on Palakkad Main Road in the city, leading to tense moments even as more police personnel were deployed. Seven party MLAs allegedly involved in commotion with the police were detained.
Velumani held the Rural Development portfolio in the previous AIADMK cabinet. Similarly, DVAC sleuths held searches against AIADMK’s C Vijayabaskar, a former health minister, in connection with alleged irregularities in issuing essentiality certificate to a private medical college against National Medical Commission regulations. Based on the FIR, searches were held in 13 places including in his native Pudukottai, Theni and Chennai, DVAC added.
A sum of Rs 18.37 lakh in cash and 1,872 gm of gold jewels among others were “identified,” the release added. Both leaders are sitting MLAs and are already under the DVAC scanner in disproportionate assets cases against them. Hitting out at the ruling DMK over the vigilance action against his party colleagues, Palaniswami said it was done to divert attention from the “opposition” among the public over the new power tariff.
In a series of tweets, he slammed also the “autocratic” police action of detaining his party MLAs in Coimbatore. They raised questions in a democratic manner and should be released forthwith, he demanded.
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