Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday warned the Bharatiya Janata Party not to 'provoke' the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, saying it will not be able to 'bear the consequences' and that his party also knows 'all types of politics', escalating his attack on the saffron party after the arrest of his cabinet colleague V Senthil Balaji.
Stalin also alleged that the BJP leadership wants to do its 'politics through the ED'.
"Turn back the pages of history to know the kind of agitations done by the DMK. Else, ask the senior leaders in Delhi. Don't provoke. If you provoke the DMK or the DMK worker you will not be able to bear the consequences. We also know all types of politics. This is not a threat, but a warning," he said targeting the BJP in a video message posted on his official Twitter handle.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested Balaji under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with an alleged cash for jobs scam in the state transport department during 2011-15 when he was the transport minister in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government.
The Madras high court, meanwhile, allowed the shifting of Balaji, who is under medical treatment at a Chennai government hospital, to a private facility.
A division bench of Justices J Nisha Banu and D Bharatha Chakravarthy also said there was 'no question of enlarging him on bail', as Balaji was under judicial custody.
It gave the interim order while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Balaji's wife.
The court, at the same time, said Balaji will continue to remain in judicial custody and allowed the ED to have its own team of doctors also to examine the minister. A sessions court on Wednesday sent Balaji to judicial custody till June 28.
In a related development, the state human rights commission said it will look into Balaji's allegations of ill-treatment at the hands of the ED during his arrest. The ED has denied the allegations.
Balaji, who is the Electricity and Excise minister, was arrested around 1.30 am on Wednesday following raids on his premises since Tuesday morning sparking a political slugfest.
Calling the ED action a 'brazen political vendetta', Stalin slammed the central agency for its handling of the minister, alleging the DMK leader was subject to 'mental pressure' and subsequently suffered a health issue.
Stalin, who is also the president of the DMK, said his party will not be afraid of 'intimidation' by the BJP and that its workers will take on any challenges.
The party has its own ideology and principles and was against communalism, casteism, discrimination based on birth and many other 'regressive' aspects.
"We face such forces in the political arena. We are ready to put forth arguments for arguments. We will not budge if attempts are made to fall us in line through intimidation. We will stand upright; will face things."
"You are there for me. The 2024 electoral field is awaiting us. Let us face them there," he told his party cadres.
"You all are aware of the unfair troubles being given to Senthil Balaji by the ED. None has any doubt that it is brazen political vendetta. Taking up a case that is 10 years old, he was confined and subjected to mental pressure. He was mentally and physically weakened and even suffered a life-threatening heart disease because of the ED. Can there be any more brazen political vendetta?"
"Balaji 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 probe such person by confining him like a terrorist? What is the emergency for such an enquiry. Is there an undeclared emergency in the country. Looks so going by the ED's activity. 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," he said attacking the saffron party.
Stalin alleged the BJP uses its probe agencies like the Income Tax department, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED to 'intimidate' rivals whom it cannot face politically or electorally.
He also referred to the arrest of or action against leaders like Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena, Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and those associated with Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Mamata Banerjee to buttress his claim.
However, these central agencies won't go to BJP-ruled Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh, Stalin sarcastically remarked.
He also said those who joined BJP following such raids 'become saints', as there would be no progress in such cases.
Taking a swipe at the various searches by central agencies against the AIADMK leaders in 2016, 2017 and 2018, Stalin asked if any of these reached its logical conclusion. BJP and AIADMK are allies.
Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (TNSHRC) member V Kannadasan met Balaji at the hospital where the minister is undergoing treatment and said the latter had told him he was 'treated badly' by the ED officials who had made the arrest.
"He said he was dragged and suffered an injury in his head," Kannadasan said.
"However, only the doctors can confirm about the injuries said to have been suffered by Balaji. The TNSHRC will look into the matter," he added.
A delegation of AIADMK leaders led by the party's MP C Ve Shanmugan met Governor R N Ravi and submitted a memorandum signed by AIADMK General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami demanding the removal of Balaji from the council of ministers.