A week after he refused to acknowledge that he had previously interacted with conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar, AIADMK Deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran has come out with a fresh revelation. He now claims he was under the impression that Sukesh was a high court judge, who held influence in the Election Commission.
The AIADMK leader is currently in New Delhi, being questioned by the police for allegedly attempting to bribe Election Commission officials. The bribe was reportedly meant to help the Sasikala faction of AIADMK retrieve the two-leaves symbol.
Dhinakaran was booked in the case on 16 April, following the arrest of Sukesh Chandrasekhar, a middleman, from a five-star hotel in Delhi. The police recovered Rs 1.30 crore from Sukesh, who alleged that he was given the money by Dhinakaran.
Sources in the crime branch have however dismissed Dhinakaran's claim and say that the two had been in touch even before Sukesh's arrest. Dhinakaran in fact, had personally met Sukesh in Delhi five weeks ago to make the payment, the police claim. He had reportedly informed his party to fight for the symbol legally, while he “pulls some strings in the capital”.
The AIADMK leader allegedly used his assistant Janarthan and friend Mallikarjuna's phones to communicate with the conman. Their meetings were reportedly arranged by Janarthan, while Mallikarjuna, a common friend, ensured messages were relayed to both of them.
In fact, Dhinakaran and Sukesh shared the same lawyer and met in 2013 for the first time when Sukesh was arrested, say sources. The next round of questioning for the AIADMK leader is scheduled at 4 pm on Monday.
Trouble for the Mannargudi man began on 7 April, with the I-T raids on properties belonging to Health Minister Vijayabaskar, who is alleged to have distributed money during the RK Nagar bye-polls, where Dhinakaran was contesting.
With the taint of corruption on his cabinet, Palaniswami was keen to drop Vijayabaskar, who is a Dhinakaran loyalist. However, TTV had resisted any attempt, given that it would reflect poorly on him.
The pressure, however, continued to mount on the Deputy General Secretary after an FIR was registered against Kamaraj, Kadambur Raju and Udumalai Radhakrishnan, senior ministers who belong to his camp, on charges of trespassing and obstructing public servants from discharging their duty.
On 19 April, hours after the ruling faction announced his ouster, Dhinakaran said he would respect the decision and keep away from the party affairs. He is, however, yet to submit his resignation from the post, stating that it was his aunt who had appointed him to the post of General Secretary.
His arrest comes at a time when the ruling faction led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami is holding talks with former CM O Panneerselvam’s camp for a merger. It also comes days after Finance Minister Jayakumar announced that Dhinakaran and his aunt General Secretary VK Sasikala would be sidelined from the party.
But the arrest of Sukesh Chandrasekhar and the latest allegation of bribe seemed to have been the last straw for the AIADMK. After Dhinakaran held consultations with the Sasikala faction, it was announced that he will be sidelined and not allowed to take part in the daily functioning of the party.