Chennai: Even before OPS' stunning revolt against VK Sasikala and her band of followers, there were questions being asked about the AIADMK Chief-Minister designate's dubious holdings.
Sasikala and her family are stakeholders in many companies with questionable credentials and this needs to be investigated, her detractors have been saying.
A NEWS18 report quoting activist Jayaram Venkatesan, conveyor of the Arapor Iyakkam, raised questions about the majority stake that Sasikala and her family held in two companies that own Midas Distilleries, which supplies liquor worth over Rs 1000-crore to state-run liquor company Tasmac.
"As of 2016, Sasikala was majority share-holder in the two companies Jazz Cinemas and Signet Exports, which own Midas Distilleries. If a Chief Minister gives orders of government businesses to companies owned by them or their relatives, that's a very direct in-your-face conflict of interest," Venkatesan told the channel.
So CM-in-waiting owns nearly 50% in co. that supplies to state-run liquor distribution co. This is clear conflict of interest.
Venkatesan further went on to say that he and his NGO has been collating data from balance sheets of these companies and records with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to establish the link.
"Just last month, they made public their 'expose' on these records but say they are yet to file a case in any court. Midas had a turnover of Rs 360 crores between 2009 and 2011. In 2014-15, its turnover was upwards of Rs 1400 crore," Venkatesan said.
AIADMK spokesperson's defence: Sasikala is still not CM. When she takes oath, will give up these interests. (!)
Speaking to the same news channel, Congress leader Karti P Chidambaram, said that these are vital questions that needs to be answered.
"There are some serious cases against them. There are serious questions about her immediate family. There is also serious issue of conflict of interest. There have been various allegations about her proximate family and also that they do significant business with the government of Tamil Nadu, because they have distilleries owned by them or close associates which do huge business with Tasmac. So it is a direct conflict of interest," Karti said.
"Probity and transparency are unknown to Sasikala. She was reprimanded by the Supreme Court in the Tansi case for buying government land for Sasi Enterprises. We don't expect conflict of interest concerns to affect someone like her who disregards law with impunity. But we will raise the issue certainly," he told News18.
Journalists also highlighted the questions surrounding her holdings in Jazz cinemas itself.
"More recently, the 'taking over' of Jazz Cinemas by a close relative of Sasikala, apart from the numerous ventures that this person, who was renting out video cassettes has entered into, follows an alarming pattern, which needs to be investigated thoroughly. The ventures that her relatives have floated or have taken over, are far too many. Many in the state believe that this will only continue if she becomes the CM," veteran journalist RK Radhakrishnan felt.
The trial court had found Nammudu MGR's sources of funds to be dubious. Yet it continues to finance present-day Sasi venture.