Election Commission of India (EC) has canceled the RK Nagar bypoll in Tamil Nadu for the time being. The election was to be held on April 12 to fill the legislative assembly vacancy created after the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who used to represent the constituency. The bypoll campaign was marred not only by violence among supporters of O Paneerselvam and TTV Dinakaran, but also the distribution of money and other items by parties to woo voters. The EC registered as many as 35 FIRs against many people, including political leaders, while the Income Tax department seized crores of rupees.
The Election Commission has released a detailed report of how parties indulged in corrupt practices to woo voters and what the poll panel did before canceling the poll. Here are the shocking details:
Innovative forms of inducement
The EC received many complaints on possibilities of inducement of electors by distributing cash and gifts in innovative forms like tokens, prepaid phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscription, milk tokens, seven money transfer in no frill accounts in banks and even mobile wallet payment to mobile numbers.
To prevent such malpractices, the EC monitored: a)Transaction of bank accounts. b) Mobile phone top up of postpaid plans, news paper agents, and milk vendors were monitored electronically or otherwise to prevent misuse of such channels. c) Teams of Sales Tax (commercial tax) department were pressed into service to immediately verify sale of goods through tokens.
EC also received complaints of distribution of goods, like, sarees, lamps popularly known as “kuthu villaku”, household articles, etc. All cases were enquired and as many as 12 FIRs were registered.
On the basis of complaints of distribution of money, gift articles and violation of MCC, till April 7, 2017 an amount of Rs 18,80,700/- was seized and 35 FIRs were registered.
Apart from cash, various items such as lamps, t-shirts, silver plates, mobilephones and sarees, which were used for distribution to workers were also seized.
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AIADMK (Amma) party distributed hats/caps/scarfs
The EC received a complaint that large number of hats, caps and scarfs were distributed by AIADMK (Amma) party at various places in RK
Nagar Constituency. The representatives of AIADMK (Amma) candidate TTV Dinakaran, informed they had made a one-time investment of Rs. 30,000/- (for 1000 hats). However, it was found that the shopkeeper, whose address was mentioned in the bill, had supplied 10,000 hats per day (worth Rs 3 lakh) to the party.
Rs 5 crore seized from Tamil Nadu health minister’s associates
Search and seizure action under section 132 of Income Tax Act 1961, were conducted 17 at 21 places in Chennai and 11 outside Chennai in Tamil Nadu belonging to Dr C Vijaya Baskar, Minister for Health, Government of Tamil Nadu and his associates. Prominent among his associates, who were searched are Sarath Kumar, film actor and President, Samathuva Makkal Katchi, Rajendran, AIADMK leader and former MP(2009) and Dr S Geetha Lakshmi, Director of Health Services (TN) and Vice Chancellor of Dr MGR Medical University.
The EC also received complaints indicating that Vijaya Baskar was the main person involved in bribing the voters in RK Nagar Assembly constituency. The IT sleuths found some loose sheets with his accountant, Srinivasan, indicating the distribution of Rs 89 crores to a number of politicians for further distribution among the voters. The IT department managed to seize cash worth Rs 5 crore seized from the confidantes of Vijaya Baskar and from his native place.
New date of polling
While canceling the poll scheduled for April 12, the said in its order, “The bye-election to fill the above vacancy in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 11-Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency shall be held by the Commission in due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors, as mentioned above, gets removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election.”