The BJP in Tamil Nadu found itself in a controversy on Monday, June 13, after it briefly appointed a former red sanders smuggler as a state secretary under the BJP OBC Morcha. The BJP in Tamil Nadu released an official note on Monday announcing the newly-appointed OBC Morcha state secretaries, and the post in Thiruvallur East had been to K Venkatesan. K Venkatesan was arrested in 2015 by the Andhra Pradesh police under charges of smuggling red sandalwood to foreign countries. When this created some controversy, the BJP quickly withdrew his name.
54-year-old Venkatesan has seven cases pending against him at the M4 Redhills Police Station â€” including an attempt to murder case â€” and he has been arrested under the stringent Goondas Act in 2011 as well. He was also registered as a history-sheeter, but in 2013, he moved a writ petition before the Madras High Court seeking a cancellation of the history sheet and got a favourable order. Venkatesan has also been a former member of the youth wing of the AIADMK, and rose in ranks to become the deputy secretary.
Later, however, he was arrested in red sanders smuggling cases, many of which are still pending against him in Andhra Pradesh. In August 2015, the Andhra Pradesh police arrested four high-profile smugglers including Venkatesan, a Dubai-based donâ€™s son and a smuggler linked to a Bhutan-based module. He was jailed in a prison in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. He came out of prison in March 2016. When the red smuggling case came to light, he was removed from the AIADMK. He then got involved in real estate. Shortly after, he joined the BJP.
It was only on Monday that he was given a post in the party, as the BJP OBC morcha secretary for Thiruvallur East. However, just two hours after BJP released the names, people pointed out that Venkatesan had been accused of smuggling red sanders, and there was dissidence within the BJP as well. The BJP then released an edited list of new state secretaries, excluding Venkatesanâ€™s name.
A senior party leader from the BJP confirmed to TNM that Venkatesan had been appointed as the state secretary of Thiruvallur East under the BJP OBC morcha, but a revised list was later released, from which his name was removed. While his appointment has been withdrawn, Venkatesan continues to be a member of the BJP.