The noose tightened around AIADMK (Sasikala) Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran with the Delhi Police arresting him late on Tuesday night.
The arrest comes after Dhinakaran was interrogated by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for several hours in an attempt to bribe Election Commission official case. Dhinakaran, his assistant Janarthanan and friend Mallikarjuna were interrogated together multiple times. While TTV and Mallikarjun were arrested by the Delhi police crime branch on Tuesday night, some reports say Janardhan may become a witness in the case.
The arrest comes barely hours after Special Judge Poonam Chaudhary asked Delhi police what action had been taken on the AIADMK leader. The judge was hearing the Delhi police's request to extend police custody of middleman Sukesh Chandrasekhar.
On Tuesday morning, Sukesh Chandrasekhar, spoke briefly to media persons and said that he was being framed in the case because of his criminal past. He said that he was being made a scapegoat in the case and denied any involvement.
An FIR was registered against Dhinakaran on April 17 by the Delhi Police for attempting to bribe officials of the Election Commission in order to get the frozen two-leaves symbol allotted to his faction.
The AIADMK (Sasikala) Deputy General Secretary had flown to Delhi on Saturday after a summons was issued to him earlier in the week.
Details of the case
An FIR was filed against Dhinakaran and one Sukesh Chandrasekar for attempting to influence the ECI.
The FIR against TTV and Sukesh was under various sections of the IPC including 120B (Criminal conspiracy), 170 (impersonating a public servant) and under Section 8 of The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Sources had told TNM that Sukesh had led TTV Dhinakaran to believe that the ECI could be influenced over the two-leaves decision by bribing officials to the tune of Rs 50-60 crore. Sukesh was said to be in possession of R. 1.30 crore at the time of his arrest from Hyatt hotel in Delhi on Sunday night. The Delhi police believe that Dhinakaran could have been in direct touch with Sukesh.
While TTV Dhinakaran initially claimed that he didn't know Sukesh, he later admitted that he did know him, according to the Delhi police. However, the police said, that Dhinakaran had claimed that he thought Sukesh was a High Court judge. Dhinakaran reportedly said that Sukesh offered to help him with the two-leaves case, but he, Dhinakaran, declined the offer.
The two camps in the AIADMK, led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on one side and Sasikala on the other, have been embattled over the ownership of the â€˜two-leavesâ€™ symbol of the AIADMK, with each side claiming it to be their own.
His arrest comes at a time when the ruling faction led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami are holding talks with former CM O Panneerselvamâ€™s camp for a merger. It also comes days after Finance Minister Jayakumar announced that Dhinakaran and his aunt, General Secretary VK Sasikala would be sidelined from the party.
Trouble for the Mannargudi man began on April 7, with the I-T raids on properties belonging to Health Minister Vijayabaskar, who is alleged to have distributed money during the RK Nagar bye-polls, where Dhinakaran was contesting. With the taint of corruption on his cabinet, Palaniswami was keen to drop Vijayabaskar, who is a Dhinakaran loyalist. However, TTV had resisted any attempt given that it would reflect poorly on him.
The pressure, however, continued to mount on the Deputy General Secretary, after an FIR was registered against Kamaraj, Kadambur Raju and Udumalai Radhakrishnan, senior ministers who belong to his camp, on charges of trespassing and obstructing public servants from discharging their duty.
On April 19, hours after the ruling faction announced his ouster, Dhinakaran said he would respect the decision and keep away from the party affairs. He is, however, yet to submit his resignation from the post, stating that it was his aunt, who had appointed him to the post of General Secretary.