Hours before the crucial Executive Committee meeting of the ruling AIADMK on Thursday, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, has moved the Madras High Court over allegations of corruption on the part of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami.
In June this year, the DMK had lodged a complaint with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption, seeking a probe into 'disproportionate assets’ allegedly amassed by the TN CM.
The primary allegation against the Chief Minister is that contracts for highways projects in the state had reportedly been awarded to relatives and benamis of the Chief Minister.
Speaking to TNM, Member of Parliament and Organising Secretary of the DMK RS Bharathi said, “We have sought direction from the Madras High Court to register a case because the DVAC has not taken any action on our complaint. We have already stated that contracts have been awarded to the kith and kin of the Chief Minister and that the norms of the Transparency of Tenders Act 1998 have been violated. We definitely have faith in the judiciary.”
The main persons mentioned in the complaint are Chandrakanth Ramalingam(related to EPS through his daughter-in-law), P Subramaniam(father-in-law of EPS' son), and Nagarajan Seyyadurai(an alleged benami). The DMK claims that they were the beneficiaries of overvalued World Bank-assisted government projects, thanks to their proximity to the Chief Minister.
Adding to their existing complaint, the DMK also notes in its petition the Income Tax raids that took place at the properties of Nagarajan Seyyadurai, the Managing Director of SPK and Co Expressway Pvt Ltd- one of the awardees of the highways contracts.
Slamming the ‘lackadaisical approach’ of the DVAC, the DMK says that the IT raids were proof of 'large scale corruption' in the road contracts ‘with the aid of the present Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami.'
"..the quantum of evidence erased during this interim period from the date (of the) complaint and to the date on which the income tax raids were conducted is not known," states the petition.
In the case against the Chief Minister, the DMK lists out various irregularities in awarding highways projects including the four laning of the Oddanchatram- Dharapuram- Avinashipalayam state highway, the four laning of the Tirunelveli-Sengottai-Kollam state highway, the four laning of Madurai Ring Road, six laning of the Vandalur-Walajabad road, and the maintenance of all State Highways in Ramanathapuram, Thiruvallur, Krishnagiri and Virudhunagar districts.
Palaniswami served as the Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports until his elevation to the post of Chief Minister in February 2017. He assumed charge of the Ministry as CM.
In March this year, the DMK had filed corruption allegations against TN Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. The party similarly approached the Madras High Court after the DVAC had not acted on the complaint.