How Tamil Nadu became India's politics' most booty-full state

The raids and the hauls in Tamil Nadu that caused eyeballs to pop and jaws to drop across the country.

 |  6-minute read |   19-04-2019
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Even as Tamil Nadu votes in the second phase of the Lok Sabha Elections, the polls in the Vellore constituency stood cancelled after a haul of around Rs 12 crore from the premises of a DMK associate. On the other hand, IT teams unsuccessfully raided the residence of Kanimozhi — the DMK candidate from Thoothukudi.

According to the Election Commission’s progressive seizure report till April 16, Tamil Nadu leads the country with cash seizures of Rs 204 crore — the total cash seizures across the country are to the tune of Rs 683 crore. It is not only in cash seizures that Tamil Nadu leads — other precious metals like gold and silver seized in Tamil Nadu come to around Rs 294 crore.

Putting cash and metals together, the total seizures in the state come to Rs 510 crore.

The incident evokes rich memories from the IT raids every time the premises of a prominent personality in the state has been searched. Here are some incidents — some of them very recent — that record the absurd values of these hauls.

PS: The list is merely indicative and not exhaustive.

The Amma of all hauls

The mother of all hauls was at the Chennai and Hyderabad houses of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the raids conducted in 1997.

main_jewsl_041819074945.jpgAll that glitters is gold — A tiny part of the booty reportedly seized from J Jayalalithaa and VN Sasikala. (File Photo: PTI)

Reportedly, this haul revealed a hoard of valuables and documents relating to property valued at multiple hundreds of crores. The haul apparently included jewellery — 30 kg of gold (including 400 pairs of bangles) and 500 kg of silver, over 100 wrist watches, 750 pairs of footwear, 1,05,000 sarees (of which 750 are silk and gold) and more than 150 curios and semi-precious stones.

Besides this, there were reportedly around 500 wine goblets, several anklets, a gold belt, diamonds to the tune of several crores and a silver sword among other things.

The sarees alone were estimated at Rs 92.4 lakh in the late 1990s.

In 2000, it reportedly took three days for Special Court to assess the jewels that belonged to Jayalalithaa and her aide VN Sasikala. 

main_jaya8_041819075043.jpgYes. They dressed to impress. File Photo: PTI

The waist belt — worn by Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in the famous photograph (above) in which they were bedecked in similar jewellery and sarees — apparently weighed 1,044 grams and was bedecked with 2,389 diamonds, 18 emeralds and 9 rubies. Only one of the two waist belts was even recovered.

We cannot even begin to estimate the worth of the possessions that the raiders were never able to lay their eyes and hands on. 

Building on gold bricks

I-T sleuths reportedly recovered over Rs 170 crore of unaccounted cash and gold bullion of over 100 kg during searches conducted at 10 premises of a road construction company across the state. The raids reportedly led to one of the biggest recoveries in the country so far of illegal cash and gold.

The cash and dozens of gold biscuits were kept in big travel bags and parked cars — around Rs 36 crore was found in a single BMW car and Rs 25 crore in another luxury car. Massive mud-slinging was carried out by the ruling party and the opposition where the opposition DMK alleged that the company was a front for Chief Minister E Palaniswamy and the ruling AIADMK denied this and argued that it was following its predecessor DMK's system of awarding contracts even to a lone applicant.

All for Amma’s constituency

In 2017, the VK Sasikala faction of the AIADMK had allegedly handed out Rs 89 crore to voters to buy their support for Sasikala's nephew, TTV Dinakaran, pitted in the by-elections from Chennai's RK Nagar assembly seat.

In the aggressively fought by-election to the constituency that was held by Jayalalithaa before her death, taxmen raided the homes of minister C Vijayabaskar and popular actor Sarath Kumar in Chennai. The two were accused of handing out cash for votes and officials claimed that documents seized during the raids revealed Rs 89 crores had been paid to RK Nagar voters. The ruling party's faction, led by VK Sasikala, alleged that Mr Vijayabaskar and Sarath Kumar had been targeted because of their support to its candidate TTV Dinakaran. 

TTV Dhinakaran later won the polls — with a thumping majority.

2-G spectrum row

In October 2009, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided Sanchar Bhavan — the premises of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) — as the first part of the probe initiated into the scam in spectrum allotment. This was the raid that brought out many skeletons tumbling out of several jaded closets.

The DMK patriarch, his party and his family members were allegedly involved directly. A joint investigative report by the CBI and the Income Tax Department alleged that Former Telecom Minister A Raja may have received a bribe to the tune of ₹30 billion for moving the cut-off date for spectrum applications forward. Kanimozhi, daughter of the DMK patriarch, was reportedly behind the family-owned Kalaignar TV channel. The CBI alleged that she conspired with Raja reportedly to coerce entrepreneurs to funnel ₹2 billion to the channel and advance the channel's cause, facilitating its registration with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and adding it to DTH operator TATA Sky's lineup.

Kanimozhi was further charged with tax evasion by the Income Tax Department in Chennai.

The scam, it was alleged, cost the government Rs 60,000 crore.

Also read: From goat trader to millionaire - How Nagarajan Seyyadurai's SPK group shot to the top in Tamil Nadu

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