Chennai: The DMK described the CBI searches at the residences of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police T K Rajendran a "shame" on the state and along with other opposition parties, demanded that the two be sacked.
The CBI carried out searches at around 40 locations in Tamil Nadu, including at the residences of Vijayabaskar and Rajendran in connection with the Gutka scam.
Demanding resignation of both Vijayabaskar and the state police chief, DMK President M K Stalin, in a statement, said, "The searches have brought shame on the state... Vijayabaskar continuing in the cabinet and Rajendran as the head of the police department will turn out to be a blot against people's rule and for the force known for its honesty."
Hence, the Health Minister and the DGP should voluntarily quit their posts. If not, the Governor Banwarilal Purohit should dismiss them without further delay, he said and recalled the DMK earlier moving court seeking a CBI probe into the Gutka scam, pertaining to alleged pay-offs by a gutka manufacturer.
CPI(M) state Secretary K Balakrishnan also demanded that Vijayabaskar and Rajendran be remove from their posts and made to face the probe. "What respect will people have on police and the government after these raids? This is a very bad situation," he told PTI, adding the CBI should take the case to its logical conclusion.
PMK founder S Ramadoss termed the CBI searches as "appropriate" in order to nail those involved in the scam and asked why the government was 'hesitant' to show the minister the door. In a statement, he said the PMK has for the last two years been insisting that Vijayabaskar be sacked as minister over the issue.
"By not removing Vijayabaskar, the K Palaniswami-led dispensation doesn't seem to be a government protecting people's welfare but that of scam-tainted ministers," Ramadoss said, adding the minister and the DGP continuing in their posts was 'unacceptable,' and they along all others connected in this case should be dismissed by the state government.
The CBI on Wednesday carried out searches across the state and had swooped down, among others, the residences of Vijayabaskar and DGP T K Rajendran, besides that of a former senior police official.
The scam came to light on July 8, 2017, when income tax sleuths raided the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutka (a concoction of tobacco and pan masala) manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who had been facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 250 crore.
The manufacture, storage and sale of the chewable forms of tobacco, including gutka and pan masala were banned by the Tamil Nadu government in 2013. During the raids, the IT department had seized a diary containing names of those who had been allegedly paid by the gutka manufacturers.
The case was sent to the CBI by the Madras High Court in April this year on the plea of a DMK leader.
The agency had registered an FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu government, Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.