CBI raids Stalin; PM says timing bad
A day after DMK ministers quit the Union Cabinet over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, CBI sleuths on Thursday raided the house of party treasurer M K Stalin for allegedly violating import norms for luxury cars.
A four-member team landed at Stalin’s Alwarpet residence in the morning, looking for him and his son Udayanidhi Stalin, an actor. The sleuths rummaged through the premises for about an hour. They demanded that purchase receipts of some luxury cars in possession of Stalin’s family be produced, sources said. The CBI also conducted searches at 17 other locations, including the premises of Stalin’s friend Raja Shankar.
The investigating agency said that 17 imported cars were seized. The raids were a fallout of allegations that about 33 such vehicles were “imported to Tamil Nadu,” of which certain vehicles were sold in “violation of import provisions.” Consequently, the state exchequer incurred a loss of Rs 48 crore. Stalin’s family owns two Hummers, a special utility vehicle, allegedly bought in violation of rules.
Senior DMK leaders were quick to denounce the raid as “an act of political vendetta” by the Centre since Stalin had played a key role in the DMK’s decision to quit the UPA coalition.
“We came out (from the UPA) on Wednesday, and this seems like a threat. We will face it legally,” Stalin said.
Reacting to the sudden development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “We are all very upset. The timing is unfortunate. The government had no role in this and I am sure of that. We will find out the details.” Even Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who was involved in the government’s failed attempt to convince the DMK to continue in the UPA, expressed his displeasure over the raid.
“Normally, I do not comment on the working of another department (home ministry). But in this case I have to say that I strongly disapprove of the CBI’s action. It is bound to be misunderstood,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, DMK patriarch Karunanidhi has accepted the minister’s statement. Karunanidhi said though it was not unusual for the DMK to be at the receiving end of “political animosity,” he was not sure whether Thursday’s raid was one such instance.
The nature of the alleged violations were not immediately clear.
The CBI said a case has been registered “against an importer and a senior intelligence officer of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), who allegedly did not take action even after identification of vehicles at the premises of certain users and unknown others.” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “The government was surviving in power using the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate as crutches.”