Income Tax officials searched the official residence and 34 other premises of Tamil Nadu health minister C Vijayabaskar on Friday and some of the prominent faces close to AIADMK (Amma), the faction of V K Sasikala, five days before the R K Nagar bypoll in Chennai. The I-T department did not officially come out with information.
A department official said a total of Rs 4.5 crore was seized during the searches at 32 places. “Cash seizures were made from people allegedly close to Vijayabaskar. We have also seized documents worth Rs 89 crore from various places. But no violations are registered so far,” the official said.
A senior I-T official said the raids started at 6 am in 25 places in Chennai and Pudukottai, the native district of minister Vijayabaskar. It was later extended to a total of 35 premises across the state, among them those belonging to actor and All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi leader R Sarathkumar, former AIADMK legislator Chitlapakkam Rajendran and vice-chancellor of Dr MGR Medical University S Geethalakshmi, who is facing many corruption allegations.
There have been allegations of cash distribution for AIADMK (AMMA) candidate TTV Dinakaran, who is the nephew of AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, in the RK Nagar constituency.
The bypoll is scheduled on April 12.
The searches were conducted two days after the police arrested the managing director of a real estate firm in Chennai. The firm purportedly had close links with former power minister Natham Viswanathan, who joined O Panneerselvam and generously supported the campaign for E Madhusudhanan, the candidate of the Panneerselvam faction in R K Nagar.
Vijayabaskar’s residence on the Greenways Road in Chennai witnessed high drama on Friday with AIADMK cadres raising slogans and preventing the vehicle of the additional director of income tax (investigation), V Roy Jose, from entering Vijayabaskar’s residence.
The supporters alleged that the searches were politically motivated by the BJP at the Centre to help the Panneerselvam faction.
While the raid was on inside, Vijayabaskar appeared before the media along with his school-going daughter as security personnel tried to stop him. He told the media that he was being harassed by I-T officials since morning. “I don’t even have Rs 10,000, but this department is harassing me from 4am. My children were not allowed to go to the school today,” he said.