Governor wants Stalin to drop Senthil Balaji from Cabinet, CM shoots back a ‘no’ — warns BJP, ‘don’t dare touch us’

CM Stalin sought to allocate Senthil Balaji's portfolios to other ministers while retaining him in the Cabinet; Governor refused.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Jun 16, 2023 | 8:08 AM Updated Jun 16, 2023 | 8:10 AM

Governor wants Stalin to drop Senthil Balaji from Cabinet, CM shoots back a ‘no’ — warns BJP, ‘don’t dare touch us’

The DMK-BJP war in Tamil Nadu intensified on Thursday, 15 June, with Governor RN Ravi refusing to accept the recommendation of Chief Minister MK Stalin to reallocate the ministries held by arrested minister V Senthil Balaji, to two other ministers.

According to sources, Stalin decided to allocate the Electricity portfolio to Thangam Thennarasu as additional charge, and Prohibition and Excise to S Muthusamy — effectively keeping the Balaji in the Cabinet as a minister without portfolio despite his arrest early on Wednesday by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

In a letter to the Governor RN Ravi, the chief minister said the decision had been taken because of the health condition of Senthil Balaji that required him to undergo a heart surgery.

Replying to the letter, Governor Ravi late on Thursday refused to accept the recommendation.

Following this, Higher Education Minister Ponmudi said that the Governor had written to the chief minister, when he returned from the two nations trip, to drop Senthil Balaji from the Cabinet citing the case pending against him.

Replying to that communication, Chief Minister Stalin had refused to drop Balalji from his Cabinet.

Related: ED raids TN Minister Senthil Balaji; seizures even at Secretariat

Stalin’s blistering attack on BJP

Earlier on Thursday, in a video message, Stalin launched a scathing attack against the BJP, alleging that the saffron party was using Central investigative agencies to arm-twist the Opposition.

The DMK chief said that the consequences would be “unbearable” if the BJP continued to provoke the DMK.

Backing Electricity Minister Senthil Balaji, who was arrested by ED on Wednesday, Stalin released the 10-minute video message on his Twitter handle.

Stalin said that the BJP was playing dirty politics by using agencies like the ED, the CBI, and the I-T Department to push its own agenda.

Quoting the late chief minister M Karunanidhi, Stalin said: “Don’t dare touch us. If we retaliate, you will not be able to bear it.”

He added: “Go through history to know the kind of protests taken forward by the DMK. Just ask the senior leaders in Delhi about us. We, too, know politics. I am not issuing a threat. This is a warning.”

Stalin further said, “The DMK has its own ideology and principles, and is against communalism, casteism, discrimination based on birth, and all regressive things. We will not budge if somebody tries to make us fall in line through intimidation. We will deal with it.”

Also Read: Centre misusing agencies against political rivals: Pinarayi Vijayan

On Senthil Balaji

Stating that the way Balaji was tortured by the ED was unjustifiable, Stalin said there was no doubt that the raids on his houses and his subsequent arrest were clear acts of political vendetta.

“They have taken a 10-year-old case and locked him up in a room for 18 hours in the guise of interrogation, and tortured him mentally which lead to severe heart issue. There can’t be a more blatant incident of political vendetta than this,” he said.

The chief minister said it was not wrong if Balaji was investigated based on some complaint or related court order, but added that he was no ordinary person who would abscond.

He is an elected MLA and a five-time legislator and is a minister for the second time. He attends a lot of public events, Stalin said.

“What is the need to question such a person by confining him like a terrorist? When the ED officials came, he gave full cooperation and said he was ready to give whatever explanation sought by them. He was not allowed to meet anyone. When his health got worse, only then did they take him to hospital. If they had been ignorant then, it would have been a grave danger to his life,” Stalin said.

Related: DMK petitions SC against use of CBI & ED to target Opposition

‘Agencies used to arm twist the Opposition’

“What is the urgency in such an inquiry? Is there an undeclared Emergency in the country? It appears so, going by the ED’s activities. To put it simply, the BJP leadership wants to do its politics through the ED; it is not ready to do politics by meeting people. BJP’s politics is anti-people,” Stalin said, attacking the saffron party.

Pointing to the Central agencies’ action against non-BJP governments and leaders of other parties, Stain said there are no ED or I-T raids in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat because these states were ruled by the “impeccable BJP”.

Noting that only 112 raids were conducted in the country before BJP came to power in the Center, Stalin said there were nearly 3,000 raids carried out against the Opposition leaders. However, only 0.05 percent of cases have been proved so far.

Also Read: People laugh when ED, CBI issue notices these days, says BRS

“All those raids were conducted only to intimidate and threaten others. Those who faced raids became saints after joining the BJP, and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has released the list of such saints,” Stalin said.

He also questioned why the investigative agencies were not conducting inquiries in cases filed against the AIADMK Ministers.

“The state’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption has conducted raids and filed charge sheets against former AIADMK Ministers. We are ready to submit all the documents and evidence about their corruption. Is the BJP ready to take action against them?” Stalin asked.