Hours after CBI conducted raids at the residence of Tamil Nadu health minister C Vijaya Baskar in connection with the multi-crore gutkha scam, Baskar termed the allegations politically motivated. The CBI conducted raids at 40 locations across Tamil Nadu, including the houses of former Chennai city police commissioner S George and former minister Ramana.
“I will fight this case legally. Just because there are allegations, it doesn’t mean that a person is a criminal. I have never met Madhav Rao, who is the owner of MDM Gutkha company. Some people are trying to banish me from politics by making baseless allegations. These allegations are politically motivated. I have been someone who has been working for the betterment of the people of TN and the health dept. I am ready to face these allegations made by my political enemies. I am innocent and I will fight this case both politically and legally,” Baskar said.
WHAT IS THE GUTKHA SCAM
The scam was unearthed in 2017 when the income tax department conducted raids at the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutkha manufacturer in Tamil Nadu.
During the raids, the department got their hands on a diary containing the names of those who were believed to have been paid off by the manufacturers. The health minister’s name was in the diary.
Interestingly, manufacture, storage and sale of the chewable forms of tobacco, including gutkha and pan masala were banned by the state government in 2013.