Tamil Nadu: Senthil Balaji finally resigns as Minister without portfolio
Nearly nine months since his arrest, former Cabinet Minister, V Senthil Balaji who is accused in the cash-for-jobs scam, resigned on Monday, February 12. Senthil Balaji who had been in charge of the Electricity, Non-conventional Energy, Prohibition and Excise Departments, had been retained as a minister without portfolio by Chief Minister MK Stalin even after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on June 14, 2023. Senthil Balaji was arrested in connection with a money laundering case related to a cash-for-jobs scam in the state Transport Department during the previous AIADMK rule. Earlier on January 30, the Madras High Court had asked why Senthil Balaji continued to hold the post of minister despite having been under arrest for more than 230 days.
Senthil Balaji was arrested in June 2023 by the ED in a money laundering case in the cash-for-jobs scam. The Chennai Principal District and Sessions Court rejected the former minister’s bail petition on January 12, for the third time. His bail plea was earlier dismissed twice – in September 2023 and June 2023 by the District Sessions Court, stating that allegations against him are "categorical" and noted that he had a "definite role" in the commission of the offence charged against him. He was also denied bail on medical grounds once each, by the Madras HC and the Supreme Court.
It may be noted that Senthil Balaji had complained of chest pain after the ED raided his place of residence and had arrested him in June. An angiogram was conducted that detected three blocks in his coronary artery at the Omandur Government Hospital in Chennai. The Madras High Court had granted him permission to undergo surgery at a private hospital. He underwent surgery at Kaveri Hospital in Chennai and was then shifted to the Puzhal central prison.
Several DMK party cadres including CM Stalin had claimed that the actions of ED amounted to political harassment and condemned it as a vendetta by the Narendra Modi-led Union government against the opposing parties such as the DMK in Tamil Nadu.