Cash-for-symbol case: AIADMK leader Dhinakaran arrested by Delhi police

New Delhi: After four days of questioning,AIADMK (Amma) leader T T V Dhinakaran was tonight arrested by Delhi Police for allegedly attempting to bribe an Election Commission official to get the undivided AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ election symbol for his faction.

Dhinakaran reached the Crime Branch Inter State Cell office in Chanakyapuri at 5 PM. He was arrested after being questioned for close to six hours, Praveer Ranjan, joint commissioner of police (crime), said.

His longtime friend Mallikarjuna was also arrested for allegedly facilitating the deal between the leader and Sukesh Chandrasekar, the middleman in the EC bribery case, after being quizzed for the second day on the trot, he said. Mallikarjuna had been accompanying Dhinakaran everywhere ever since Chandrasekar was arrested on April 16 for allegedly striking a deal of Rs 50 crore to help the AIADMK (Amma) faction keep the poll symbol.

Dhinakaran, Mallikarjuna and Chandrasekar will be questioned together to establish the money trail, details of the deal and whether more people were involved in it. Sources said that Dhinakaran’s PA Janardhana has agreed to be a witness in the case.

Dhinakaran had yesterday confessed to meeting Chandrasekar, assuming he was a high court judge. He had, however, denied that he paid money to the middleman for retaining the party’s poll symbol.

The controversial AIADMK leader, who had come under the scanner after the arrest of Chandrasekar, had maintained that he never met him. He was earlier summoned by Delhi Police at his Chennai residence in the case.

Earlier in the day, the police produced Chandrasekar before a special court, which extended his custody till April 28. The court was told that Chandrasekar had been paid through hawala channels. “A person named Shah Faisal told that he had collected a parcel from Chennai and gave it to Chandrasekar, who had posed as a member of Parliament,” the police said. It is suspected that the parcel contained Rs 10 crore. The police said three Chandni Chowk-based hawala operators will also be questioned in connection with the case. The AIADMK leader and his friend will be produced before a city court tomorrow.

Dhinakaran, who was appointed deputy general secretary by AIADMK chief V S Sasikala, has been isolated in his party amid moves to merge rival factions led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam. A powerful section of the ruling AIADMK (Amma) recently revolted against the Sasikala-Dhinakaran leadership. The development came after Panneerselvam, who is leading the rival faction, demanded ouster of Sasikala and Dhinakaran as a condition for merger talks.