CM graft case: Ponnaiyan clarifies on DVAC comments

Chennai: AIADMK senior leader C Ponnaiyan Sunday asserted that the state DVAC was an independent body and it had to decide whether to go on appeal against the Madras High Court order which had directed a CBI probe against Tamilnadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

Seeking to clarify his comments on Friday, the former minister said he had only stated that the government might go in for an appeal, which was “misconstrued” as a definitive statement. Ponnaiyan’s clarification came a day after the DMK seized on his comment that the government would go for an appeal against the high court order and “unbundle the lies” of the opposition party.

“I did not say the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) would go for an appeal, I said it might go. There is a difference between may and will. “It (DVAC) is an autonomous body… and to decide whether to go for an appeal totally rests with them. Neither the government, the party nor the chief minister has any connection in this,” the AIADMK leader said.

On 12 October, the Madras High Court ordered CBI probe into allegations of corruption in award of government road contracts, triggering demands by the opposition parties for Palaniswami’s resignation. Ponnaiyan, citing norms, had Friday said those who had won road contracts were not relatives of the chief minister.

The firm that bagged the contract was in the civil contract business for over 30 years and had won bids worth crores of rupees even during the past DMK regimes, he asserted. DMK’s charges are borne out of political vendetta to “besmirch” the AIADMK government, which has been successfully implementing a slew of welfare measures, he had said.

The high court, which passed the order on a petition by the principal opposition DMK, held that the preliminary inquiry by the DVAC was nothing but a “perfunctory exercise” and had not been done in a fair manner. The judge had on 9 October reserved orders after the DVAC informed that no cognisable offence had been made out against the Chief Minister in the complaint lodged with it.

In its petition, the DMK, represented by its organising secretary R S Bharathi, had alleged irregularities and corruption in award of road contracts. It accused Palaniswami of abusing his power and allotting projects worth Rs 3,500 crore to his relatives and ‘benamis.

Palaniswami, who also holds the highways portfolio, has rejected the DMK’s charges and asserted that there were no irregularities in the award of contracts.