If the parliamentary election due in Vellore on Thursday is postponed in the wake of Income Tax raids, it won’t be the first such deferment in Tamil Nadu.
A little over two years ago, when the AIADMK was in turmoil after the death of J Jayalalithaa, the Election Commission cancelled the by-election in RK Nagar, her former assembly seat in Chennai. It said it would hold the vote when “the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors…gets removed with the passage of time”.
RK Nagar eventually voted in December 2017 to elect the rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran its MLA, in a stunning repudiation of Jayalalithaa’s successors in government.
Dhinkaran had been arrested earlier in 2017 on charges that he attempted to bribe Election Commission officials for the AIADMK’s symbol — “rettai ilai”, or “the two leaves”. Later granted bail, Dhinakaran has since founded his own party, the AMMK, and could deny the state government a majority by preventing it from winning more than seven of the 22 bypolls that will be held in Tamil Nadu.
The RK Nagar saga wasn’t the first instance of a bypoll being rescheduled.
In May 2016, the Election Commission recommended cancelling assembly bypolls in Avarakurichi and Thanjavur, saying it was the first time Indian elections were being cancelled because voters were bribed.
The two elections were held in November 2016, but the story doesn’t quite end there. The AIADMK legislator who won in Avarakurichi, Senthil Balaji, first defected to the TTV Dhinakaran camp and was disqualified from the assembly along with 17 other rebels. Then, he joined the opposition DMK.
Avarakurichi will now vote again for a new MLA on May 19. Senthil Balaji is in the fray again.
For voters in Tamil Nadu, there is no dearth of bad news.
A monumental amount of unaccounted wealth has been recovered in the run-up to this year’s Lok Sabha elections and bypolls. Tamil Nadu’s top poll official says cash worth Rs 135.41 crore has been seized since the Model Code of Conduct came into force.
Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer: Rs 135.41 cr in cash has been seized in the state since imposition of Model Code of Conduct; liquor worth Rs 37.42 lakh; drugs&narcotics substances worth Rs 37.68 lakh; 1022 kg gold, 645 kg silver; precious metals worth Rs 294.38 cr also seized
ANI (@ANI) April 16, 2019
In Vellore, a case was was filed against DMK candidate Kathir Anand and others following cash recoveries made during raids by the Income Tax department. Kathir Anand is the son of DMK treasurer Durai Murugan.
The Indian Express reports that the poll panel has recommended cancelling the election in Vellore in a proposal sent to the President of India. The poll panel has said it has issued no orders yet about the cancellation.
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