'They Found Nothing, Fear Defeat': DMK Fumes as I-T Swoop Down on Kanimozhi's Tuticorin House
DMK President MK Stalin said the raids were an outcome of the 'fear of a damning defeat' for BJP's candidate Tamilisai Soundararajan and claimed that the EC is being 'deliberately used by [PM Narendra] Modi to target the party'.
New Delhi: Officials of the Income-Tax Department and a static surveillance team of the Election Commission on Tuesday evening carried out a search at the residence of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi in Thoothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu.
The action came less than 48 hours before the second phase of elections on April 18, which will be held in 97 constituencies. All parliamentary seats in Tamil Nadu (39) and Puducherry (one seat) will vote in the second phase.
Kanimozhi, the daughter of former chief minister and party chief M Karunanidhi, is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Thoothukudi against Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan.
The operation was allegedly conducted without a warrant. Official sources indicated that the searches were held following “some inputs” and “on the basis of information shared by local administration”, but they did not elaborate. “It is normal verification procedure,” an unidentified I-T official said.
Confirming the development, Kanimozhi said that the I-T officials did not have the requisite warrant to conduct the searches.
“Despite that, we fully coordinated with the agency. I was issued summons at 9:30 pm and was asked to record a statement at the spot. According to my knowledge, this is not legal. I feel they are conducting searches because I am the candidate of the opposition,” she said.
Kanimozhi said that no cash or documents were found at the house. I-T officials confirmed that the DMK leader had cooperated with the team.
Following information about the searches, a large number of DMK workers gathered in front of Kanimozhi's house expressing solidarity. They were also heard raising “Down with Modi” slogans, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'Down with Modi' sloganeering by DMK cadre outside Kanimozhi's Tuticorin residence. pic.twitter.com/eH4E7IFCtY— Poornima Murali (@nimumurali) April 16, 2019
In a statement, DMK President MK Stalin said the raids were an outcome of the “fear of a damning defeat” for BJP's candidate Soundararajan.
“This is murder of democracy,” Stalin added, claiming that Modi has killed the EC’s autonomous feature through such actions.
The DMK chief said his party would work towards ushering in reforms in the appointments of chief election commissioner, election commissioners and state chief electoral officers. “If needed, we will not hesitate to approach the Supreme Court,” he said.
A defiant Kanimozhi hit out at the central government.
“Tamilisai has parked several crores of rupees in her residence. Is the EC ready to conduct searches there?” she asked. “The DMK will not be perturbed by these incidents. We will fight against these forces.”
“We will emerge victorious,” she said. “The ruling party is scared of our victory. They are carrying out raids to tarnish the DMK’s image.”
Questioning the timing, Stalin hit out at the EC and said the poll body is being “deliberately used by [PM Narendra] Modi to target the party”.
Echoing Kanimozhi’s apprehensions, Stalin inquired if raids would also be conducted at Soundararajan’s residence. “Despite a proper complaint to the Election Commission, no action has been taken,” he said, calling for reforms in the poll watchdog.
In a separate incident, a flying squad of EC officials attempting to check for cash distribution by TTV Dhinakaran's AMMK were held captive by party workers in Theni. The police fired four rounds in the air to rescue the officials even as the poll panel stepped up efforts to check cash distribution in the state ahead of polling.
At least four persons were detained and more than Rs 30 lakh in cash seized.
In the run-up to the polls, several raids have been conducted over the last few weeks, mostly targeting members of the Opposition and their aides. I-T Department officials last week had conducted searches at 18 locations in Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, Namakkal and Tirunelveli.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday also slammed the central government over continuing I-T raids, alleging the searches were only targeted against those who opposed the BJP.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the EC's recommendation to cancel the Lok Sabha election in Vellore over excessive use of money power, days after a large sum of cash was seized from the warehouse of a DMK candidate.
The recommendation was sent after cash seizures from the premises of DMK veteran leader and party treasurer Duraimurugan’s son Kathir Anand’s house in Vellore on March 29.
The EC's flying squad on Tuesday also seized unaccounted cash of Rs 1.41 crore from a car near Sulur on the outskirts of Coimbatore during a vehicle check.
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