IT searches underway at multiple locations linked to DMK minister Senthil Balaji

Properties of his brother Ashok Kumar have also come under the IT scanner

PTI05_26_2023_000019B People outside the residence of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji during a raid by Income Tax officials in Karur on Friday | PTI

The Income Tax sleuths on Friday conducted searches in multiple locations in Tamil Nadu linked to Electricity, Prohibition and Excise minister V Senthil Balaji. The coordinated search operations by the Income Tax sleuths began on Friday morning  in Karur, Coimbatore, Chennai and many other places linked to Senthil Balaji and his brother Ashok Kumar. 

When the IT officials tried entering one of the premises linked to his brother Ashok Kumar at Ramakrishnapuram in Karur, the DMK supporters raised slogans against the Union Government and Prime Minister Modi and indulged in ruckus. The DMK supporters surrounded one of the officers and asked her to show her identity card. The rear view mirror of one of the vehicles used by the officials was also damaged by the supporters. 

Senthil Balaji hails from Karur and is considered one of the most powerful ministers in MK Stalin’s cabinet. Balaji is believed to be one of the money bags of the DMK, who is also the minister in-charge for Karur and Coimbatore districts. He was instrumental in making the DMK win all the 139 wards in Coimbatore during the local body polls last year. The DMk had lost in all the 10 assembly segments in the district in 2021 general elections. 

The raids comes days after Tamil Nadu opposition leader Edappadi K Palanisamy and Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai raised several accusations of corruption against the minister and scam in the government owned TASMAC bars. Annamalai also petitioned Governor RN Ravi seeking to relieve Senthil Balaji from the cabinet saying that "he acted against his oath of office and Indian constitution."

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had recently allowed a batch of appeals against an order of the Madras High Court for conducting a fresh inquiry against Senthil Balaji in a job racket case. Balaji was accused of scam in job recruitment when he was a minister in Jayalalithaa’s cabinet during the 2011-2016 AIADMK regime. Balaji is accused of having accepted bribes for giving jobs in the transport department when he was the transport minister between 2011 and 2015. The Supreme Court had also set aside the Madras High Court’s order staying the proceedings of the money laundering case initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

With Stalin in Japan to seek investments to Tamil Nadu, the income tax raids and the continuous attacks against Senthil Balaji by the opposition BJP and the AIADMK might bring trouble for the government. 

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