Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday expressed confidence that the ruling Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led alliance will return to power in the upcoming state elections in Tamil Nadu, The Indian Express reported. The alliance also consists of the Bharatiya Janata Party and regional party Pattali Makkal Katchi.
“I am assured about the outcome [of the polls], looking at the excitement of the people,” Shah said during his visit to the poll-bound state to campaign for Pon Radhakrishnan, the BJP’s candidate for bye-elections to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency. The bye-poll will also be held along with the Assembly elections. The seat fell vacant after Congress MP H Vasanthakumar passed away due to coronavirus last year.
“We have started the campaign to take the BJP’s Lotus symbol door-to-door,” Shah said, according to The Indian Express. “I am confident that a coalition government of [the] AIADMK-BJP-PMK will be formed.”
During his visit, the home minister launched the party’s door-to-door campaign in Suchindram and took part in a roadshow in Nagercoil in Kanyakumari.
On Friday, the AIADMK finalised a seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP, allotting it 20 seats in the Assembly elections. The AIADMK’s main rival in the state, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has allotted 25 seats to ally Congress and six seats to the Communist Party of India. It has offered six seats to another ally Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, according to NDTV. Talks with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have still remained inconclusive.
Elections to the 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly and the bye-poll to Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat will be held in a single phase on April 6. The results will be announced on May 2.
Shah questions Kerala CM on gold smuggling case
Shah also addressed a rally in Thiruvananthapuram in neighbouring poll-bound state of Kerala, to mark the valedictory function of BJP’s campaign trail “Vijay Yatra”.
Speaking at the rally, Shah criticised both the ruling Left Democratic Front and the major Opposition in the state, Congress-led United Democratic Front, suggesting they were not concerned about the country but their “vote banks”, ANI reported.
“CPI [Communist Party of India] is doing ‘ilu-ilu [a colloquial term for I love you]’ with SDPI [Social Democratic Party of India] and PFI [Popular Front of India] and Congress has allied with Muslim League in this election,” he said.
He pointed out that the Congress was fighting in an alliance with Communist parties in West Bengal and was fighting against them in Kerala. “In Kerala, Congress has allied with Muslim League, in West Bengal they have allied with Furfura Sharif [cleric’s party Indian Secular Front] and in Maharashtra, they are with Shiv Sena,” Shah said. “What is your direction?”
He also referred to allegations against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of being involved in the state’s gold smuggling case.
“I heard Kerala CM [chief minister] saying that central agencies are working under political pressure,” Shah said, according to ANI. “I want to ask him whether the main accused in dollar and gold smuggling cases were working in his office or not? You should tell people whether your government gave them Rs 3 lakhs per month [as] salary or not.”
Shah was apparently referring to Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar, an accused in the gold smuggling case, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate. He also mentioned another accused in the case, Swapna Suresh, without mentioning her name, NDTV reported.
“Did your main secretary give an important post to the woman, yes or no?” the home minister said, according to NDTV. “Was this woman accused taken to a foreign trip along with officials, yes or no? Was this accused regular at your official residence, yes or no?”
He further raised questions on allegations that Vijayan’s office put pressure and attacked ED and customs officials.
Kerala gold smuggling case
On July 5, gold weighing 30 kg concealed in imported plumbing material was seized by the Customs officials upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore.
Officials found that former employees of the consulate – Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair – were involved in the gold smuggling. The customs department arrested Nair on the same day for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of the gold in diplomatic baggage from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai.
The Enforcement Directorate, in its charge sheet filed in October before a special court in Ernakulam district, had named three accused – Suresh, Nair and Saritha PS. In the same month, the ED also arrested suspended Indian Administrative Service officer and Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar, in relation to the case.