Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin on Wednesday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sharing a stage and holding up the hands of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam at an event last week, NDTV reported. The DMK has repeatedly accused the two of corruption.

Stalin told the news channel in an interview that the prime minister’s gesture, ahead of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, created doubts about his stand on corruption.

“On one hand PM Modi talks about a corruption-free government and on the other hand, he holds the hands of two people accused of corruption,” Stalin told NDTV. “Does PM Modi support corruption by holding the tainted hands of EPS and OPS [a reference to the Tamil Nadu chief minister and his deputy]?”

Stalin’s party has accused Palaniswami and Panneerselvam of amassing wealth illegally. The DMK has also alleged that the Tamil Nadu chief minister handed over government contracts to his relatives.

When the interviewer pointed out that they had not been found guilty by any court, Stalin said: “The court has not found them innocent either. It is still wrong for the PM to support it.”

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narayanan Tirupathi hit back at Stalin over his remark. “No case has been proved against EPS or OPS,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV. “Stalin should be proud that the PM is honouring two Tamil leaders and holding their hands. “Stalin is jealous.”

Political parties in Tamil Nadu are stepping up their campaign for the elections due by April-May. They will soon begin accepting applications from potential candidates.

The ruling AIADMK will contest the elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. However in December, the AIADMK rejected any possibility of a power-sharing agreement with its ally and clearly said that Palaniswami will be the party’s candidate for the chief minister’s post.