Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan today sought a high-level probe into the alleged payment of bribes to a Tamil Nadu minister and top officials to facilitate the sale of banned ‘gutkha’ in the state. Action should be taken against all those who are involved in the scam, he told reporters here. A media report last month had claimed the Income Tax Department searched the premises of a gutkha manufacturer last year and had seized documents detailing alleged payment of bribes to senior government officials and a minister. The IT officials had also sought the response of the state government. The issue was sought to be raised by opposition DMK in the ongoing assembly session, but the speaker had disallowed it saying media reports cannot be discussed. On continuing arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, Minister of State (Road Transport, Highways and Shipping) Radhakrishnan said he was confident the problem would be resolved in coming years. Stating that no fishermen was deliberately crossing the international maritime boundary line, he asked the Sri Lankan government to treat them in a humane manner.
“It is not acceptable to punish fishermen severely for crossing the border or levying fine on them. There are times when Sri Lankan fishermen also entered Indian waters,” he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had drawn up a plan which would permanently solve the dispute over fishing in the Palk Strait, he added. On the tussle between Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi and the elected government on various issues, the Union minister said “she only wanted to work for a corruption-free administration in the Union Territory.” But for the intervention of the Lt Governor in the medical admissions issue, the (government quota) seats reserved for 71 students would have been ‘sold,’ he said.
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He also said the people in Tamil Nadu were ‘dissatisfied’ with 50 years of rule by Dravidian parties and believed the state would develop only under BJP, he said. Radhakrishnan earlier participated in a function organised to welcome a group of members of the Devendrakula Velalar community, a Scheduled Caste, into the BJP fold.