It is no secret that the arrest of mining baron Sekhar Reddy, has opened a can of worms that exposes deeprooted corruption in Tamil Nadu. The Income Tax department's raid on Reddy's premises on December 11, led to the seizure of Rs 131 crore in cash and 127 kg of Gold. But the real lottery they struck, was in the form of a diary that detailed the money that he was paying to various bureaucrats, ministers and leaders cutting across party lines.
Highly placed sources within the Income Tax department have now told The News Minute that a list of 40 people named in Reddy's diary was submitted to Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, for the Tamil Nadu government to mull action. "These were bureaucrats and leaders who were on Sekhar Reddy's payroll. Since we had this strong evidence, we gave it to the Chief Secretary. We are only authorised to take action in the case of black money. But the diary had evidence of crimes such as corruption and FERA violations," says the officer.
Sitting ministers, including D Jayakumar have dismissed allegations of leaders from their faction being involved and have instead questioned former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. "Why shouldnâ€™t the links between Sekhar Reddy and Panneerselvam be probed?" the minister reportedly asked.
I-T sources, when asked if O Panneerselvam was listed in the document, told TNM: "Those in the know of things, those who have been observing Reddy's actions for some time now, will know who is named in the diary."
According to Law Minister, C Ve Shanmugam, it was OPS who introduced Sekhar Reddy to Tamil Nadu. "When he was PWD minister, he awarded contracts to Reddy. When (party icon Jayalalithaa) was in prison, Panneerselvam hastily appointed him as member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam board. Reddy and Panneerselvam posed for a photographer like Ashokan and Nambiar (Tamil cinema villains of yesteryear). Why has no inquiry happened into that aspect?â€ť he reportedly asked on Tuesday.
The current dispensation's leaders, who attempt to shift focus to the rival faction, are however clearly rattled by the developments from the I-T raid. The timing of their decision to divest the Chief Secretary of her 'vigilance' powers, denotes the same.
According to ToI, Girija Vaidyanthan has been relieved from the important post of Commissioner of Vigilance. Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi has instead been given the additional charge of the vigilance portfolio.
The Vigilance Commissioner usually heads the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption. It probes all corruption charges against state government officials and people's representatives.
The I-T official who spoke to TNM says that, this will not throw a spanner into his department's investigations. "It was our duty to submit the list because the violations do not come under are scope for action. It is up to the government now, what they do with it," the officer says.
But even the I-T department has seen a form of shuffling this week. Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation) V Roy Jose, who is one of the main officers leading investigations against Health Minister Vijayabaskar will be leaving Chennai in close to three weeks. The timing of his 'transfer' has been questioned by I-T sources, who say that Roy had in fact asked to be posted in Nagpur at the National Academy of Direct Taxes.
The case itself meanwhile, is still being probed. "The Minister and his wife have been questioned. The probe is still underway," says the official. When asked about the death of Subramani, a close aide of the Health Minister, a month after the raids, the official confirms, "Yes we did retrieve some documents from the Namakkal residence. However, as far as the circumstances of his death is concerned, only the police can get to the bottom of it," he adds.