RK Nagar By-polls: Tamil Nadu Minister, actor Sarathkumar raided by income tax officials ahead of contest
Tamil Nadu's Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and actor Sarathkumar were raided on Friday morning by Income Tax officers in connection with allegations of bribing voters in RK Nagar, where a by-poll is being held after the death of J Jayalalithaa.
Alleging harassment, Mr Vijayabaskar said, "Officials have not recovered even ten thousand rupees from me... IT officials are harassing me, my children couldn't even go to school." Taxmen arrived early this morning at the homes of Sarath Kumar and Vijayabaskar in Chennai. Sources say raids are on in 34 places that include the properties of Mr Vijayabaskar and his associates.
The raids come after a video shared on social media showed cash being handed out by a man who tells people to vote for the VK Sasikala faction, AIADMK Amma in the RK Nagar April 12 by-election.
Tax officials allege that Mr Vijayabaskar has played a key role in the distribution of money in the constituency where the polls have become a massive prestige battle for two AIADMK factions, led by VK Sasikala and O Panneerselvam.
Mr Vijayabaskar belongs to the Sasikala faction and Sarathkumar's AISMK recently pledged support to Ms Sasikala's candidate TTV Dinakaran.
In the 45-second video that forms the crux of voting malpractice charges, a man is seen handing out 4,000 rupees each, in crisp 2,000-rupee notes, to three people inside a room. He asks them to vote for the hat, the election symbol of Sasikala's AIADMK Amma group. There are women in the room, one holding a baby, and a man who seems to have a voters' list.
Mr Dinakaran, who is the AIADMK's deputy chief, has rubbished the allegations and accused main opposition party the DMK of trying to frame his party.
O Panneerselvam or OPS's faction the AIADMK Purathchi Thalaivi Amma has fielded veteran leader E Madhusudanan in RK Nagar against Mr Dinakaran. Ms Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jaykumar is also contesting the by-election. All three stake claim to the legacy of Ms Jayalalithaa or Amma.