TTV Dinakaran, who is running the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, was willing to pay 50 crores to win rights to the party’s two-leaf symbol, which is contested by a rival faction, the Delhi police has said. It claims that a middle man who it raided and arrested in Delhi was found with 1.3 crores, which was allegedly meant as a bribe for the Election Commission in exchange for the symbol which was declared suspended a few weeks ago.
A Delhi police team will travel to Chennai to issue summons to Mr Dinakaran.
The police has said there is no evidence to indict Election Commission officials in the alleged corruption.
Mr Dinakaran has been charged with conspiracy and corruption in the police case. Sukesh Chandrasekar, the man who he had deputed to allegedly buy the symbol for him, was found at a hotel in South Delhi. He allegedly confessed to the scheme. The police say the 27-year-old is a known con man with a fleet of luxury cars, and was once caught masquerading as a politician.
“I totally deny this allegation, I don’t know anybody by this name – Sukash Chandrasekhar. I did not speak to him in my lifetime ever,” Mr Dinakaran told NDTV.
The AIADMK cleaved into two camps since December when its leader, J Jayalalithaa, died while she was Chief Minister. Her closest aide, VK Sasikala was named the new party chief but was jailed within weeks after the Supreme Court found her guilty of corruption.
However, before that, another senior leader, O Panneerselvam, who regularly stood-in for Ms Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister, said he was the legitimate new boss and founded his own party. Ms Sasikala, before heading to jail, placed her nephew, Mr Dinakaran, in-charge of the faction loyal to her. He confirmed that he will visit her in prison in Bengaluru today.
The Election Commission has not ruled yet on which group is the “real AIADMK” – the winner will accrue the party symbol, a crucial asset and instantly recognisable by lakhs of voters.
The battle between the rival camps peaked with campaigning for the by-election for Ms Jayalalithaa’s constituency of RK Nagar in Chennai. Mr Dinakaran is his group’s candidate. Large amounts of cash were being offered to voters ahead of the election scheduled for April 12, so the Election Commission cancelled it and not yet decided on a new date for voting.
Mr Dinakaran was among the congregation of male relatives who Ms Sasikala had to disown publicly to reconcile with Ms Jayalalithaa after the women, who lived together, had a falling out. Ms Sasikala’s family, referred to as the Mannargudi Mafia , after the village they’re from, is distrusted in Tamil Nadu on account of various corruption scandals.
Mr Dinkaran denied that the recent cash-for-votes allegations against him are contributing factors to a surging dissent against his leadership. “On Tamil New Year day, they all came to wish me, we are all together. Nobody asked me to quit or anything,” he told NDTV.