SS Saravanan, an AIADMK MLA belonging to the O Panneerselvam faction, was caught in the centre of a political storm in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday after video footage emerged, where he allegedly claims pay-offs were made from MLAs from the Palaniswami faction of the party ahead of the February 18 trust vote. Panneerselvam, meanwhile, has sought explanation from Saravanan with regard to the footage of alleged horse trading that was aired by a TV channel.
Saravanan, a Madurai (South) MLA claimed the voice in the video footage was not his. “It is me in the video, but the voice is not mine,” Saravanan told reporters. According to news agency PTI, the footage, part a ‘sting’ operation by the channel, allegedly showed pay-offs by both the AIADMK factions.
Saravanan claimed the footage was an act of “mimicry, dubbed, fake voice”, and said that it was from some old event that he didn’t remember. He added that he was consulting legal experts with regard to the situation and a criminal case would be filed. The controversy has even led the opposition party, DMK, to move the Madras High Court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). The controversy comes ahead of the state Assembly session which begins on Wednesday.
Earlier, Saravanan had claimed that he had “escaped in disguise” from a resort near Chennai where the AIADMK MLAs were reportedly staying ahead of the trust vote, before joining the Panneerselvam camp. Palaniswami won the trust vote by a margin of 122-11 on February 18, following which he was elected the Tamil Nadu chief minister.