Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan has accused a “blackmail gang” of fabricating an audio clip of him allegedly criticising the ruling party, the DMK.
The audio clip was posted on Twitter by the state's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, K. Annamalai, and has been circulating on social media since Tuesday. The clip appears to criticise the DMK and its leaders, including the Chief Minister's son and the Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister, Udhayanidhi Stalin, and his son-in-law, V. Sabareesan.
The audio clip is fake and the result of a "cowardly attempt" to disrupt the DMK's governance and achievements, Rajan claimed in a video posted on Twitter. Rajan, who showed deep fake videos of former US Presidents Obama and Trump to demonstrate the potential of manipulated audio, said he had never made the comments in the audio clip and denied ever saying anything negative about his party colleagues.
The minister went on to praise Udhayanidhi Stalin and Sabareesan, calling them trusted advisors and pillars of support and said that they had not been accused by any opposition party of any wrongdoing.
The DMK had delivered "record-breaking, innovative and compassionate administration" under the leadership of Chief Minister MK Stalin, Rajan said and suggested that the audio clip was part of a campaign to cast aspersions on the party and create rifts within it.
'Blackmail gang trying to disrupt good governance'
This is not the first time Rajan has been the target of what he called a fabricated audio clip. In a statement issued last week, he denied making comments in another audio clip that had been circulating online. He has now called for an investigation into the source of the clips and urged the public not to believe such false propaganda.
The release of the audio clip has caused a stir in Tamil Nadu's political circles, with members of the DMK and other parties denouncing the clip as a cheap tactic.
The state's BJP president has yet to respond to Rajan's accusations.
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