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The protesters demanded greater transparency in awarding of TASMAC bars

Bar owners and workers of state-owned Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC) on Monday laid siege to the official residence of Electricity and Excise Minister V Senthil Balaji, alleging irregularities in awarding of tenders to run bars attached to liquor shops.

This is the first public protest against a minister after the DMK government assumed office in May. The protesters, who numbered around 1,000, converged outside Balaji’s residence on Monday morning demanding Chief Minister M K Stalin’s intervention in the issue.

They alleged large-scale irregularities in awarding of tenders to run bars attached to TASMAC, which has a monopoly over liquor sales in the state. The bar owners, some of whom had been running bars for two decades, alleged that Balaji gave away the contracts to his “favourites” while ignoring the deserving ones.

The protesters, who held placards that project Stalin in good light and Balaji as a “spoiler” in the “golden rule”, demanded greater transparency in awarding of TASMAC bars.

However, Balaji, who addressed a press conference hours after the protest, refuted the allegations and asserted that there were no “irregularities” in awarding the tenders.

“Utmost transparency was followed while opening the tenders and announcing the winner. There is not even an iota of truth in the allegations. The tender awards went smooth and no one raised any objection during the process. To come out and level allegations now are nothing but politically motivated,” Balaji said.

He said a couple of new regulations were added to the tender document keeping in mind the Covid-19 spread. “No one can say these tenders were given to my favourites. We followed due process. Can anyone say their tender documents were rejected? Can anyone say they were not allowed inside the hall where the process was on?” he asked.

Liquor shops in Tamil Nadu are run by TASMAC which is accused of fleecing its customers often.



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