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Palaniswami vehemently denies graft charges
By Nirmala Joseph September 12, 2018
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CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has offered a strong defence of his government as allegations of large-scale corruption kept mounting.

Palaniswami himself in under fire for alleged corruption in allotting contracts for the controversial Chennai-Salem 8-track highway. The Madras High Court is monitoring an investigation into the allegation, which the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) is probing. A DVAC report is due to be submitted to the High Court soon.

Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam and ministers C. Vijayabhaskar and SP Velumani are also in the shadow of graft charges. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last week carried out extensive raids at the properties of Vijayabhaskar and incumbent police chief TK Rajendran. 

 Velumani has been accused of several cases of nepotism.  

 In an interaction wth the media on Tuesday, Palaniswami claimed that the charges against ministers have not been proven. He did not comment on charges against himself, but has in the past rejected them. 

 “This government is doing very well in all spheres. The accusations (against Velumani) are not true. There are no complaints in any department. Vested interests want to spoil the good name of the Amma government. That’s why they spread news like this,” he said. 

 The principal opposition, DMK, has written to the DVAC seeking a probe into graft allegations against Velumani. The charges were telecast by a national news channel, which featured details of government contracts allegedly awarded to close friends and associates of Velumani. He is accused of letting companies owned by close aides to bid for the same tender, violating tender rules.

 On Wednesday the CBI had searched over 40 locations in Chennai and other districts in connection with the gutkha scam, which involves allegations of paying millions of rupees as bribe to Vijayabhaskar and Rajendran, apart from former Chennai Police Commissioner S. George. Guthka is a narcotic banned in the state, and a diary picked up from the residence of a trader had records of the bribe paid. 

 Not only the CBI, but also the Enforcement Directorate is probing the case. Vijayabaskar was also linked to the millions of rupees kept with the ruling Anna DMK for bribing voters during the RK Nagar by-election last year. The election caused by the death of chief minister J. Jayalalithaa had to be put off after recovery of the money. 

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