An AIADMK MLA belonging to the dissident faction led by O Panneerselvam in Tamil Nadu was today at the centre of a political storm over his purported claim about alleged horse-trading involving ruling party MLAS ahead of the trust vote in February. Panneerselvam, the leader of the AIADMK's Puratchi Thalaivi Amma faction, sought an "appropriate explanation" from S S Saravanan in the light of a video footage aired by a TV channel that purportedly showed him making some claims of pay-offs to ruling party MLAs ahead of the February 18 trust vote that was won by incumbent Chief Minister K Palaniswami. Saravanan, a Madurai (South) MLA, for his part said the voice in the video footage on alleged horse trading involving ruling party MLAs was not his.
The purported video footage from a 'sting' operation alleged pay-offs by both the AIADMK factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. "It is me in the video, but the voice is not mine," Saravanan told reporters. He said the voice was an act of "mimicry, dubbed, fake voice," adding the footage was related to "some old event, which I don't remember." The MLA said he was consulting legal experts and a criminal case will be filed in this regard. As the footage raised political temperature in the state, the DMK moved the Madras High Court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence(DRI) into the alleged payoffs. The developments come against the backdrop of the state assembly session commencing tomorrow. "We have sought an appropriate explanation from SS Saravanan," Panneerselvam, a former chief minister, told reporters without elaborating. Saravanan had earlier claimed he had 'escaped' from a resort near here where the MLAs were staying during that time, in 'disguise,' before joining the Panneerselvam faction. Panneerselvam had revolted against AIADMK chief V K Sasikala in February, alleging he was forced to make way for her elevation as chief minister. In ensuing political developments, the AIADMK suffered a split, with some MLAs joining him. Palaniswami was elected chief minister after Sasikala was held guilty in a disproportionate assets case, and he won the trust vote on February 18 by a margin of 122-11 amid eviction of main opposition DMK following unruly scenes. Saravanan also dismissed remarks attributed to him in the video footage with regard to MLAs Thamimum Ansari, Karunas, and Thaniyarasu, as "lie, wrong." Denying knowledge about "Shah Nawaz," of Tamil TV channel Moon TV with whom he is purportedly shown as conversing in the footage, he said, "I don't know who he is." Flanked by senior leaders Natham R Viswanathan and C Ponnaiyan, the MLA said he has apprised Panneerselvam of the issue. Making a special mention before the first bench of the Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, senior counsel R Shanmugasundaram referred to reports in a section of media about the alleged pay-offs of crores of rupees to some MLAs for their support to the trust vote. The counsel, appearing on behalf of DMK working president and Leader of the opposition in the assembly M K Stalin, said they would like to file the miscellaneous petition now seeking a CBI and DRI inquiry into the alleged pay-offs. Stating that a probe by the CBI and the DRI was very much needed, he sought leave of the court to file the miscellaneous petition in this regard. Stalin's PIL challenging the trust vote is pending in the court. Shanmugasundaram also told the court that DMK had already questioned the manner in which the AIADMK MLAs were 'confined' in a resort and brought to the assembly for the trust vote. Allowing the counsel to file the petition for CBI and DRI probe, the bench said it would be taken up in regular course for hearing on Friday.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)