A sting operation by Times Now and Moon TV has confirmed that both the EPS (Edappadi Palaniswami, backed by Sasikala) and the OPS (O Panneerselvam) camp had been involved in political corruption prior to the trust vote on 19 February 2017.
AIADMK’s Madurai South MLA SS Saravanan was caught on camera admitting to the political corruption before the trust vote that took place in February to decide the future of the AIADMK.
The sting operation also shows a sympathiser of the OPS camp discussing money that was paid by the former chief minister’s camp in a bid to get MLAs to switch sides.
After the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December 2016, the AIADMK was essentially fractured into two parts. The chief of the party and close aide of Jayalalithaa, V Sasikala, tried to get the Chief Ministership from Panneerselvam before her conviction in a corruption case. However, before her incarceration, Sasikala appointed Edapadi Palaniswami as the Chief Minister and her nephew Dhinakaran as the party’s number two.
Tamil Nadu has seen a lot of drama between the two factions of AIADMK since the death of Jayalalitha. The drama saw its climax when O Panneerselvam, the leader of the rebel camp in the AIADMK dissolved the seven member committee he had set up to work out modalities for the merger of the two rival factions within the party.
The trust vote in 19 February was won by the faction led by E. Palaniswami, although the DMK alleged that the trust vote was rigged. DMK leader MK Stalin moved the High Court for a new trust vote but his demand was dismissed.
The revelation by the sting operation
The sting operation has backed the claims on how the MLAs of both the factions have been paid off by the respective heads.
The sting tapes – released by Times Now on Tuesday – show South Madurai legislator S S Saravanan, who reportedly switched to the OPS camp in a sensational fashion by escaping the Koovathur resort.
Saravanan has talked about how both the camps have been offering the MLAs huge chunks of money ranging between 2 crore to 6 crore, adding that although promises were made, all of them did not get the money.
Another significant feature that the sting operation was able to bring forward was the involvement of the BJP in the tussle between the two factions. Saravanan says that it is because of the BJP that the OPS camp of AIADMK is surviving in Tamil Nadu.
An excerpt of the conversation between the MLA and the news reporter, prior to the R K Nagar polls, a copy of which has been acquired by the News Minute from the Moon TV has been provided below:
Moon TV: Do you have BJP support?
MLA Saravanan: Yes of course, we have BJP support. That is why we are surviving now.
Moon TV: But BJP can help OPS with the elections, no?
MLA Saravanan: They will stop the elections. For sure they will stop it. They told us from Delhi 10-15 days ago that the elections will stop mostly.
Moon TV: Last minute they will stop it?
MLA Saravanan: Yes, that is what they will do.
Impact of the sting operations in political circles
A day after the revelations by the sting operation where the rival factions of the AIADMK were caught on tape claiming that money and gold were offered to party legislators to support Sasikala’s camp in February and their subsequent denial, the DMK on Tuesday, 13 June, approached the Madras High Court seeking a probe by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the allegations.
MLA Saravanan has however claimed that it was not his voice that was captured on the spycam by the Moon TV and Times Now.
A ‘slander campaign’ has been allegedly started against Moon TV reporter Shahnawaz Khan. He has been suspected to receive threat calls post the sting operation. Khan has filed a police complaint and has sought police protection.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community condemns such corrupt practices by the ministers who are in charge of the future of Tamil Nadu and our country. We appeal to the judiciary to look into the matter and restore the democratic spirit of India, ensuring that votes can not be bought with money. We also appreciate the efforts taken by the reporters of Moon TV and Times Now in bringing to light the massive corruption by the ruling party of Tamil Nadu.