The money seized from places connected to Durai Murugan's son Kathir Anand, it is said, was meant for distribution to the voters in Vellore. The currencies, most of them in crisp bundles of Rs 200 notes, were all methodically packed in gunny sacks and boxes, with names of the wards and streets that they were meant to be distributed in the constituency of Vellore
The biggest talking point in Tamil Nadu election campaign over the last two days has been the sensational seizure of hard cash amounting to several crores of rupees from places connected to Kathir Anand, the DMK nominee from Vellore for the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
Anand, it was widely speculated, got the chance to contest on the DMK ticket owing to the fact his father, Durai Murugan, is the treasurer of the DMK, and also a close advisor to MK Stalin.
Anand owns a few colleges in the area and apart from the money seized from a cement godown owned by a DMK person known to be close to him, the Income Tax Department officers have also unearthed files of the college that Anand owns.
The money, it is said, was meant for distribution to the voters in Vellore. The currencies, most of them in crisp bundles of Rs 200 notes, were all methodically packed in gunny sacks and boxes, with names of the wards and streets that they were meant to be distributed in the constituency of Vellore.
The visuals of the seized cash have gone viral on the social media circuit in these parts, and they raise disturbing questions about the role of money power in Tamil Nadu elections.
This seizure along with a few others is not going to improve the image of Tamil Nadu, whose Assembly constituency Thirumangalam has the dubious distinction of mainstreaming money power in polls (the DMK won a by-election there in 2009 through unprecedented money power that it finds a mention in the infamous Wikileaks files.)
Anand and his dad Durai Murugan are crying themselves hoarse and allege that the I-T department is targeting them, and the duo has even moved the courts. But when cash, all with tell-tale evidences of where they were headed for, is actually seized from their premises, nobody is going to believe their unconvincing sob story.
Aside from all these, how the I-T department zeroed in on the sleaze money is an interesting tale.
If anything, Anand has to blame the same man who got him the DMK ticket in the first place for this financial fiasco – his dad Murugan.
Now, Murugan, a former DMK minister in the state and a close accomplice of M Karunanidhi, is known for his chutzpah, and is generally a garrulous sort with an annoying tendency to talk nineteen to the dozen.
This is, as it happens, may have been his undoing.
If the stories doing the rounds are to be believed, the genesis of this I-T department raid is in the March 20 meeting of the top office bearers of the DMK in Vellore, which has six Assembly constituencies. During the meet, Murugan, in his typical exuberance, announced that the DMK team which helps to get his son the highest number of votes among the six Assembly segments would be presented with a cash award of Rs 50 lakh. This amount, he said, would be paid by him in his personal capacity.
This is an unusual offer, but this is the one that made the I-T sleuths look at Vellore constituency with extra interest.
The I-T department, through its informers, soon got the information that money was indeed hoarded in Murugan’s place in Vellore.
After keeping a watch on his place, the I-T officials landed there at around 10.30 pm on March 30. Murugan and his son protested the raid, and the officials seemed to beat a retreat. Anyway, after four hours, the I-T officials formally raided the place, and seized cash worth Rs 10 lakh, some documents. More importantly, they got hold of a ‘pen drive’, which sources now claim, contained all the details of the money, the voters list of the constituency and where the money meant for the voters in their purview would be sent to.
The I-T officials did not reveal anything about the pen drive to anyone. It is not sure whether Murugan and his son were aware that the pen drive was now in the hands of the officials.
Murugan and others pooh-poohed the raid and alleged that the I-T team was let loose on them to distract them from campaigning. Amidst all this, the I-T officials were keeping a close tab on Murugan’s places as they were sure that the money would be moved from there soon.
Since March 31 and April 1 were bank holidays, the officials felt that the money would be transported around this time, and in a bid to keep the entire operations a secret, a team from another district was sought to carry out the raid.
On March 31 itself, the outstation team arrived in Vellore and began lying in wait, and that midnight (early morning of April 1), they got the information that money was getting readied to move from a cement godown owned by a DMK man (Poonjolai Srinivasan.)
The I-T team made a beeline for the place around 3 am on April 1 and began their searches, and what emerged was a fortune.
Official sources are tight-lipped about how much money was seized. But the speculation is anywhere from Rs 25 crore to Rs 50 crore.
All came out in the open because one loquacious DMK leader could not keep his mouth closed.
Last Updated 2, Apr 2019, 5:07 PM IST