AIADMK leader T T V Dinakaran, a nephew of jailed party chief V K Sasikala, was on Monday accused of trying to bribe the Election Commission with crores of rupees to reclaim the party's disputed and now frozen "two leaves" symbol.
The issue which came to light after the arrest of his "close aide" from a Delhi hotel with a huge amount of cash, sparking of a political row. While Dinakaran denied any links with the arrests accused, the Tamil Nadu's opposition PMK demanded dismissal of the AIADMK government.
A Delhi Police officer told IANS that they arrested Dinakaran's close aide Sukesh Chandrasekar from a south Delhi hotel on Sunday with Rs 1.3 crore that was meant for bribing the poll panel members.
After a long search for a judge, Chandrasekar was presented before a judge at her residence, who sent him to eight days police custody, sources said.
Chandrasekar reportedly told police that he was Dinakaran's "middleman" and was asked to pay the money to the officials in exchange for the symbol.
"Dinakaran has been booked for criminal conspiracy and corruption after Chandrasekar disclosed his name during the late night police raid at the hotel where he was staying," the police officer said.
The officer said the 27-year-old suspect, who is said to own a fleet of luxury cars, confessed he was playing the middleman.
Police raided the hotel following a tip, the officer said. A police team is expected to travel to Chennai to summon Dinakaran.
Dinakaran, who is the candidate of the ruling AIADMK faction for the R.K. Nagar assembly constituency in Chennai, told reporters there that he didn't know "anybody by the name Sukesh Chandrasekar" and called it a conspiracy to destroy the AIADMK -- divided between two factions after its leader J. Jayalalithaa died on December 5 while she was the Chief Minister.
"Somebody is scheming to destroy the AIADMK. I will meet the allegation legally. If I am summoned by Delhi Police, I will meet it legally," he said.
The by-poll, due on April 12, was postponed following allegations of cash distribution to voters on a massive scale by the ruling AIADMK.
A couple of days prior to the by-poll and on receipt of complaints of large scale distribution of cash to the voters, the Income Tax Department raided the official residences of state Health Minister C.Vijayabaskar, his relatives, business associates, party officials and also the residence of actor-turned-politician Sarathkumar.
According to the documents seized by the IT officials during their raids, the price of one vote in the R.K. Nagar constituency is Rs 4,000.
A senior IT official told IANS that around Rs 100 crore has been distributed by the Sasikalar faction of AIADMK in R.K. Nagar.
Sasikala made Dinakaran the party in charge before she went to prison.
The other faction is led by O. Panneerselvam, who was also close to Jayalalithaa and used to stand in for her as Chief Minister. The two factions have been fighting over ownership of the AIADMK.
The battle reached the Election Commission that gave the two factions new symbols and ordered a freeze over "two leaves" on March 23.
Dinakaran also said he would meet Sasikala in the Bengaluru prison.
Meanwhile, the alleged attempt to bribe the Election Commission by Dinakaran may hasten the process of uniting the two AIADMK factions, said former MP K.C. Palaniswamy, a Panneerselvam supporter.
"If the election panel decided that Sasikala's election (as AIADMK General Secretary) was not legal, then every other thing in the party will automatically settle down," Palaniswamy told IANS.
"First they bribed the voters and now they attempted to bribe the Election Commission officials. The Sasikala faction is bringing shame to Tamil Nadu," he added.
Members of the Panneerselvam camp told IANS that talks are on between the leaders of both the camps towards unification.
Meanwhile the meeting between Chief Minister Palaniswami and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M.Thambidurai here on Monday has fuelled the patch up speculations between the two factions of AIADMK.
PMK's S. Ramadoss however said the attempt to bribe the Election Commission by Dinakaran should not be seen as his own act but as the act of Tamil Nadu government led by Chief Minister Palaniswami.
"To save themselves and their posts these people would not even hesitate to negotiate with the Supreme Court and the Parliament," he added.