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IT raids at Jayalalithaa’s residence divides AIADMK

IANS | Chennai |

The Income Tax raid at the Poes Garden residence of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Friday night has created a major controversy with AIADMK leaders calling it “unfortunate and regretful” but Chief Minister K. Palaniswami laid the blame squarely on the doors of V.K. Sasikala and her family for the action.

Deepa, niece of Jayalalithaa, termed the raid a conspiracy of the Sasikala family.

Deepa added the IT officials did not inform her about the Friday night raid. She is a legal heir of Jayalalithaa.

Speaking to reporters in Madurai, around 500 km from here, Palaniswami without naming anybody said due to wrongdoings of some persons the raids had happened at Jayalalithaa’s residence.

Palaniswami said the state government has nothing to do with the IT raid. The raid at Jayalalithaa’s residence is “painful”.

Sasikala, a long time confidante of Jayalalithaa, lived in the latter’s residence.

The Chief Minister said the raid was the result of the “several mistakes” of Sasikala and her family members that resulted in the “temple” being desecrated.

Palaniswami told reporters that the IT raid in Jayalalithaa’s house was a continuation of the raids that have been taking place for the last few days in the residences and properties of Sasikala and her family members in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

“The Tamil Nadu government is in no way connected with the raids, which are being done by the Income Tax department which comes under the Central government. It pains us that there has been a raid at Jayalalithaa’s house which we consider as a temple and the state government was in the process of converting it into a memorial,” he said.

He also dismissed Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran, asking “who is he?”. “He has nothing to do with AIADMK. We are the ones in the party for over 40 years and have made sacrifices for it,” he said when asked about Dinakaran’s charge that it was Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam who were responsible for the raid at “Veda Nilayam”, where the late Chief Minister lived.

Speaking to reporters here, Fisheries Minister Jayakumar said it is “painful” to note the IT raids at Jayalalithaa’s residence.

“It is the family of Sasikala and T.T.V. Dinakaran to be blamed for the IT raid,” Jayakumar said.

Jayakumar said Dinakaran is blaming Chief Minister Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam for political gains.

Responding to the media in Tuticorin, 600km from here, Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan said: “The raids were done on the basis of specific information and not for political vendetta.”

However, senior leaders Dr V. Maitreyan and K.P. Munuswamy said whatever may be the reason it was painful and not acceptable.

Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai said Jayalalithaa’s residence was a “sacred” place and nothing should be done to bring disrepute to it.

Dinakaran, who heads a faction of the AIADMK, called the raid a conspiracy to drive him and Sasikala out of politics. He accused the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of being responsible for the raid at Jayalalithaa’s house.

DMK Working President M.K. Stalin waded into the controversy seeking details as to what came out of the raid at Jayalalithaa’s house and in various other places connected with Sasikala and her family. He also wondered what had happened to the raids at former Chief Secretary Rammohan Rao, contractor Sekar Reddy and some Ministers earlier this year.

On Friday night, IT officials recovered a laptop, a desktop and four pen drives from two rooms used by Sasikala at Jayalalithaa’s residence here, said a senior official.

“We received an input that some important electronic storage devices are going to be clandestinely removed from two rooms used by Sasikala in Veda Nilayam (Jayalalithaa’s residence),” the IT official told IANS preferring anonymity on Friday.

According to him, it was a “limited mission”. “We are not searching the entire premises,” he had said.

The raid comes days after IT officials carried out a massive search operation at the residences and premises of Sasikala’s kin and their business associates and unearthed Rs 1,430 crore of tax evasion.

The Friday IT search comes 21 years after an earlier search at Jayalalithaa’s residence.