Former ADMK Minister SP Velumani has become the latest target of Tamil Nadu's anti-corruption agency and amid being brought under the scanner, he had unfolded a high-level political drama through his secret trip outside Chennai. His one-day long trip to the southern district had triggered talks that he had absconded to evade further actions from the anti-corruption agency, that raided his residences in connection to corruption and irregularities that were committed while Velumani was serving as the Minister of Municipal Administration in the previous ADMK regime.
Tamil Nadu's Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had conducted raids on Tuesday at 60 places across the state close to Velumani and the searches had lasted for 12 hours. SP Velumani had served as the Minister for Municipal Administration in the previous ADMK regime and he was accused of a tender fraud case and allocating tenders of the Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations to the people close to him during serving as the minister. The raids had immensely shocked the ADMK as the party has been facing back-to-back ordeals from all directions after a debacle in the assembly polls.
The residences of some of the corporation officials had also come under the scanner. Amid conducting the raids, the DVAC had filed an FIR against Velumani and 17 others in connection to the irregularities and graft case. The searches are being conducted at the residences of Velumani's close associates and contractors who had taken projects worth several crores of rupees in Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations. The FIR had named Velumani as Accused No 1 and it has shockingly revealed Velumani's empire. According to the FIR, the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation had allotted tenders worth Rs 811 crore to companies closely associated with Velumani, when he was the minister of the Municipal Administration, from 2014 to 2018.
The authorities had also found that there were several violations that happened in the tenders under the direct watch and influence of SP Velumani. The authorities had also found that the companies close to Velumani had attained a growth at a skyrocketing pace while he was serving as the minister in the ADMK government. The former minister was also questioned by the authorities in the MLA's hostel in Chennai in the midst of conducting the raids and after the raids, the sleuths had recovered documents for further investigation. Armed with ADMK's defence and support from the cadres, Velumani had come out of the MLA hostel and he was greeted by hundreds of thousands of party supporters and the cadres had also protested against the raids in front of his residences.
A day after the raid, Velumani had unfolded a drama through his secret trip and shocked the authorities through his sudden disappearance. On Wednesday, Velumani had taken a flight from Chennai to Tuticorin and his plan was kept secret. It was said that he had arrived in the southern district to offer prayers at a temple. When his car exited the Tuticorin airport, he was questioned by the police officials and he maintained that he was going to a temple in Tiruchendur to attend a pooja. He was then permitted by the officials. However, after receiving a directive from Chennai to search him, the police officials in Tuticorin had begun searching him in a Tiruchendur temple as Velumani had informed him that he was going to Tiruchendur.
To their shock, Velumani was nowhere to be found and his sudden disappearance had dismayed them and the officials had launched the manhunt to locate the former ADMK Minister. The police had then decided to search the resorts in nearby districts and it was during this time that the news came out by claiming that the former ADMK Minister had absconded. The officials had rushed to the resorts in Courtrallam, Sengottai, and other hilly areas with the assumption that Velumani would be staying in resorts. The police had then gone to Manimutharu with the reports that Velumani was staying in a resort that belongs to a contractor close to him.
However, he was not there and the officials had suddenly caught up with the pressure to find Velumani even as DVAC has been probing the documents that were recovered from his residences. After playing hide and seek, SP Velumani came to Tuticorin airport at around 3.30 pm on Wednesday and his arrival had brought the officials a great relief. He then took a flight to Chennai and returned to the city. From his arrival to departure, his travel plan was not known to many including the police officers. Velumani had deliberately told the police officers that he was going to the temple to confuse them, however, he had never gone to the temple and rather, he was there in the district to complete some dealings.
According to our sources, the ADMK cadres close to Velumani said that the former ADMK Minister had travelled to a prominent hotel in Tiruchedur and he stayed there the whole day. After Velumani had arrived at the Tuticorin airport, he was received by the head of that prominent hotel and the latter had taken Velumani to the hotel. After diverting the police that he was going to a temple in Tiruchendur, Velumani had spent his day at the hotel and his presence at the hotel was also kept secret. He stayed in the hotel to complete some important dealings after he was raided by the DVAC. After completing the dealing, he had left the hotel and arrived at the airport to take a flight back to Chennai. Meanwhile, it has to be noted that Velumani's bank account and lockers were frozen on Thursday.