After 18 hours of interrogation and multiple searches across parts of Chennai and Tamil Nadu, DMK Minister V Senthil Balaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for an alleged money laundering case related to a job racket.
After his arrest, Balaji, who holds Excise, Electricity, and Prohibition portfolios complained of chest discomfort, he was then taken to Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital in Chennai at around 2:30 am. The hospital later said that the minister had been administered a coronary angiogram and had been cautioned to get a bypass surgery at the earliest.
The case regarding the arrest is linked to a job-for-cash scam in the state’s transport department, which took place during Balaji’s tenure as Transport Minister in the AIADMK regime from 2011-16, allegedly. In March 2021, on the eve of Assembly elections, Chennai police filed a chargesheet against Balaji and 46 others including senior retired and serving officers of various transport corporations.
The arrest came hours after CM MK Stalin called out the BJP for its “backdoor tactics” against its political opponents. Balaji’s residence in Chennai and his office at the state secretariat were among the premises raided. ED is expecting to seek custody after producing him to a special court later today.
The raid stirred up other opposition parties of the BJP as Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge described it as a form of Union government’s harassment and intimidation. “They only reinforce its determination and resolve to continue its democratic struggle against the anti-people policies of the Modi government,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee in a tweet condemned the raid conducted by ED, she said, “I condemn the political vendetta by BJP against DMK today. Misuse of central agencies continues. ED raids in Tamil Nadu at office of Minister for Prohibition and Excise at the state secretariat and his official residence are unacceptable. Desperate acts by BJP.”