India's main law enforcement body sparked a political firestorm Thursday by raiding the house of a top politician hours after his party withdrew from the governing coalition.
Agents from the Central Bureau of Investigation searched M.K. Stalin's house in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in connection with a case investigating the importation of cars without the payment of taxes. Stalin is a top leader of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and is widely seen as the heir to his father, party leader M. Karunanidhi.
Stalin said the raid was "politically motivated" and part of a vendetta against his party, according to the Press Trust of India.
The CBI denied playing politics, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insisted it was simply a case of unfortunate timing.
"We are all upset at these events. The government had no role in this, that I am sure of. We will find out the details," Singh said, according to PTI.
The DMK officially pulled its ministers out of the government late Wednesday, accusing India of watering down a U.N. resolution criticizing Sri Lanka's conduct at the end of its civil war with minority Tamil rebels in 2009. The DMK, a party heavily dominated by ethnic Tamils, has demanded the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution expected to be voted on later Thursday accuse Sri Lanka of genocide and that it lead to the formation of an international war crimes inquiry.
The DMK's withdrawal left the ruling Congress Party with a precarious minority government dependent on the support of several parties outside the Cabinet for its survival. Some political analysts questioned whether the government could survive until it finishes its term next year or whether it will be forced to call early elections.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee issued a statement Thursday morning that he had accepted the resignation of the DMK's five government ministers. At about the same time, CBI agents were at Stalin's house.
In a statement later in the day, the CBI said it had raided 18 different locations, seizing 17 imported cars as part of an investigation into the illegal importation and sale of cars without the payment of proper taxes. The agency insisted the raid was not intended to target "any particular individual."
Political leaders across India accused the government of misusing its power to punish an erstwhile ally, and top government ministers criticized the CBI's timing.
"I have to say that I strongly disapprove of the CBI's action today. I don't know the reason, but whatever the reason I strongly disapprove of the action. It is bound to be misunderstood," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said.
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