Senthil Balaji is no more a DMK Minister...He resigns from his post eight months after getting arrested!

Jailed Tamil Nadu Minister and DMK leader Senthil Balaji has on Monday - February 12 relinquished his post as a minister eight months after getting apprehended by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case. The dramatic development has come ahead of the hearing of his bail petition as he has been battling for an interim relief amidst his health setback for months. 

Senthil Balaji was serving as the Minister of Electricity, Prohibition & Excise when he got arrested in June 2023. The central agency, ED, at a high time when it was flabbergasted for targeting the dissenters and leaders who oppose the Modi regime, has taken Senthil Balaji into its custody based on a cash-for-job scam that the latter had allegedly committed when he was serving as the Transport Minister of Tamil Nadu under ADMK's reign. 

ED has filed a money laundering case against Senthil Balaji after conducting intense searches at his residence, the agency has arrested Senthil Balaji in June last year and after being hospitalized for a cardiac surgery, he was lodged at the Puzhal central prison. The ED has been investigating Senthil Balaji and has been taking efforts to locate his now-absconded brother Ashok, who is accused of being an important part of the scam. 

As ED has failed to arrest Ashok, it has strongly countered the bail petitions moved by Senthil Balaji. While Senthil Balaji's portfolios were given to other ministers, Chief Minister MK Stalin has decided not to remove Senthil Balaji from the cabinet and to keep him as a 'Minister without portfolio' with a berth in the Council of Ministers. The move to retain the jailed minister in the cabinet was seen as Chief Minister's show of solidarity with Senthil Balaji and also had sparked a friction between the Chief Minister and Governor RN Ravi. 

Governor Ravi arbitrarily went on to dismiss Senthil Balaji from the cabinet only to get criticized by the judiciary that the Governor can't act on dismissing or appointing a minister without a consent from the Chief Minister. Senthil Balaji fought his legal battle as a Minister while the ED strengthened its argument that being a minister, he can attempt to destroy or tamper the witnesses and evidence in the case and that he must be removed from the cabinet. 

Even recently, the Supreme Court has dismissed a plea seeking Senthil Balaji's removal from the ministerial post. Earlier, on a similar petition in the Madras High Court, a bench observed, "The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu may be well advised to take a decision about the continuance of Senthil Balaji as a minister without portfolio, which serves no purpose and which does not augur well with the Principles of Constitution ethos on goodness, good governance, and purity in administration." 

Now, days ahead of the second-time hearing of his bail petition by the Madras High Court, Senthil Balaji has decided to give up his ministerial post. According to reports, Senthil Balaji had tendered his resignation and the letter has been sent to the Chief Minister's office. It has been reported that his resignation will be forwarded to the Governor. 

It is a first time since MK Stalin came to power that a minister has resigned amidst incarceration in the wake of legal consequences in a cash-for-job scam in which he was accused of taking bribes between 2011 and 2015 from people looking for jobs in the transport department when he was serving as the Minister of Transport. Furthermore, Senthil Balaji's resignation as a minister has come when DMK has been beefing up its campaign for the upcoming general elections.