The CBI raided the residence of DMK leader M.K. Stalin Thursday, two days after the party's decision to pull out of the ruling UPA. The early morning search triggered a storm with union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram expressing his "strong" disapproval while DMK chief M.
Karunanidhi said enigmatically that it "may or may not be political vendetta".
Chidambaram spoke out in New Delhi, declaring in no uncertain terms that he strongly disapproved of the CBI raid, leading to reports that it had been called off. However, a state intelligence official told IANS in Chennai that the search had "got over and was not called off".
"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," Chidambaram said.
An angry Stalin told reporters that it was mere political vendetta and he would face all the legal issues. However, his father Karunanidhi said: "Generally actions of political vendetta surround DMK party and this (the CBI raid) may or may not be one of that."
He added that he subscribes to the views of several leaders who have voiced their opposition to the raids. Actions of political vendetta, he said, were not only carried out by the centre but also in Tamil Nadu.
The CBI was tightlipped about the raid, which was carried out in connection with the import of a Hummer car used by Stalin's son Udyanidhi, the official said.
The raid, which began around 6 a.m., came two days after the DMK announced its decision to pull out of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) over the central government's stand on supporting a US-sponsored resolution censuring the Sri Lankan government on attrocities against Tamils during the civil war against the LTTE.
It is reliably learnt that the CBI registered the case in New Delhi and the raids were in connection with the import of cars and payment of customs duties.
The CBI also raided Stalin's friend Raja Shankar's house here and houses of over dozen businesspersons in Tamil Nadu in connection with the import of foreign cars and avoiding import duties.
The investigating agency's move gave the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) more ammunition against the Congress-led UPA.
"This is a signal to all friendly parties that what happened in Chennai can happen to you as well. The Congress is known for misusing the CBI, which is the Congress Bureau of Investigation," senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu told IANS outside parliament.
"It is a proven fact that the government (UPA), to stay in power, has been using the CBI to continue their strength in the government," his colleague Rajiv Pratap Rudy told Times Now.
"When the alliance partners are leaving them, they are using their authority against them. It is a sharp message to the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party that if you leave the Congress party, you will meet the same fate. So, it is a veiled threat," he added.
Stalin is the third person in his family to be questioned by the CBI. In 2011, the CBI questioned Stalin's mother Dayalu Ammal and sister Kanimozhi.
Kanimozhi and Dayalu Ammal were questioned in connection with the flow of over Rs.200 crore from Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa's DB Realty firm to Kalaignar TV, a regional Tamil channel in which Karunanidhi's family members allegedly have majority stake.
Later Kanimozhi was charged as co-conspirator in the 2G scam with former telecom minister A.Raja, and lodged in Tihar jail. She is now out on bail.