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Echoes in Tamil Nadu

Print edition : Aug 17, 2002

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THE Pattali Makkal Katchi in Tamil Nadu is in the spotlight for largesse extended to relatives of PMK leaders in the form of petroleum outlets when E. Ponnusamy was the Union Minister of State for Petroleum from October 1999 to February 2001. Several relatives of functionaries of the Tamizhaga Rajiv Congress (TRC) and the PMK were among those who bagged the bonanza when TRC president Vazhappadi K. Ramamurthy was Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1998 to 1999.These are among revelations separately made in investigative reports carried by The Indian Express and The Hindu during the past fortnight.

Among the beneficiaries during Ponnusamy's Ministerial tenure were Tamil Kumaran, the son of PMK president G.K. Mani; M. Padmini, wife of A.K. Moorthy, now Minister of State for Railways and PMK MP from Chengalpattu; G. Raviraj, PMK legislator from Tiruttani; N. Annakkodi, wife of M. Narayanan, its Salem (north) district secretary; C.R. Perumalsamy, a PMK leader; and K. Shanmugham, another PMK leader. Allottees of dealership for LPG included the son of a retired Judge of the Madras High Court; R. Arul, PMK's State youth wing president; and P.N. Gunasekaran, State organiser of the Vanniyar Sangam.

Almost all the beneficiaries are Vanniyars. Both Ramadoss and Ramamurthy are Vanniyars and were good friends when their parties were constituents of the coalition government led by the BJP at the Centre between 1998 and 1999. Later they fell apart. Ramamurthy has now merged his breakaway TRC with the Congress(I).

Those who got LPG dealership when Ramamurthy was Petroleum Minister included S. Ganesh, son of N.T. Shanmugham, now Union Minister of State for Food Processing; Mythili, wife of P.T. Ilangovan, the PMK Lok Sabha member elected from Dharmapuri; Saradha Dhanaraj, a relative of G.K. Mani's wife; and relatives of TRC leaders C. Palanimuthu and R. Subramaniam.

Those who got petroleum outlets included the daughter of M. Dorai, the PMK MP elected from Vandavasi, and TRC leader Somasundaram. Among the beneficiaries who belong to the DMK was Jothimani, wife of A.K.S. Vijayan, Lok Sabha member from Nagapattinam. She got an LPG dealership.

Ponnusamy claimed that he had no role to play in the allotment of petrol outlets. "I had no power to decide anything." He argued that the allotments were done by four dealer selection boards in Tamil Nadu. Ramamurthy also asserted that the boards selected the allottees and that during his tenure the allotments were done according to rules. However, some "needy" persons had got the dealership.

A.K. Moorthy denied that any petroleum dealership was granted to his wife. Even though she appeared for interview before a dealer selection board, she did not get it, he said. Moorthy claimed that G.K.Mani's son got the allotment as he was an educated unemployed person. Vijayan said his wife got the agency as she belonged to a Scheduled Caste. Shanmugham said his son got the agency after one of the boards interviewed him. TRC leader R. Subramaniam said his wife could not apply as she did not have the necessary educational qualification. So her sister applied, was interviewed and got the dealership, he said.

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