Tamil Nadu’s Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam moved the Madras High Court on Tuesday, seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into bribe allegations made by two legislators from the state’s ruling party.
Some All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislators had alleged that their MLAs were offered huge sums of money to support VK Sasikala’s group ahead of the trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly in February, reported Deccan Herald. The MLAs had been put up at a resort at Koovathur for days before the vote, and were allegedly not allowed to leave, and could not have visitors.
The bribe claims came after after video clips surfaced showing Madurai South legislator SS Saravanan, from O Panneerselvam’s camp, and Sulur MLA R Kanagaraj, from the Sasikala-Edappadi Palaniswami faction, allegedly disclosing that AIADMK MLAs lodged in the resort, were offered money to support Sasikala’s nominee. The alleged bribes ranged from Rs 2 crore to 10 crore, in addition to gold. The video was broadcasted by private channels.
DMK advocate R Shanmugasundaram, in his plea, asked the court to take up the matter immediately and requested Chief Justice Indira Banerjee to issue orders for a CBI investigation. He also called for the Enforcement Directorate to investigate the scandal. The bench, however, said the plea will be taken up on June 16 provided the contentions were filed as a petition. DMK counsel said that a petition challenging the Assembly floor test in the Tamil Nadu assembly had already been filed by his party.
Meanwhile, one of the MLAs in question, Saravanan, claimed it was not his voice in the video clip. “It was not my voice. It was dubbed. I will take legal action with regard to the video”, he added. Saravanan said the voice was an act of “mimicry, dubbed, fake voice,” adding that the footage was related to “some old event, which I don’t remember”, reported The Hindustan Times.
Saravanan has been asked for an explanation from rebel AIADMK group leader and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.
The trust vote
In February, after Panneerselvam had rebelled against Sasikala and quit as chief minister and the latter was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, high drama had prevailed in the state. A trust vote had been held for MLAs to choose between the AIADMK factions, and Sasikala’s nominee Palaniswami had won. The DMK had been evicted from the House during the vote, which ensured a easy win for Palaniswami. The state has witnessed much in-fighting after AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa died in December.