Vellore Election: It's a big challenge for election commission to stop bribing of voters as it has already seized a record amount of cash, liquor and other freebies worth Rs 2600 crore before the 2nd phase.
Vellore Election: Election Commission’s decision to cancel Vellore Lok Sabha election after the seizure of Rs 11 crore in cash allegedly linked to DMK leader Poonjolai Srinivasan shows the strong action by the poll panel against the systematic abuse of election process. Poonjolai Srinivasan is closely linked to DMK treasurer Durai Murugan whose son Kathir Anand was fighting from Vellore Lok Sabha seat.
However, the problem of the use of money, liquor or other methods of bribing voters are not confined to one particular seat or state. Over Rs 680 crore in cash has already been seized across the country.
Election Commission has also seized 138 lakh litres of liquor, drugs and narcotics worth Rs 1144 crore, precious metals like gold and silver worth Rs 512 crore and other freebies worth Rs 50 crore so far.
Tamil Nadu has a history of recovery of unaccounted cash that often led to cancellation of polls. It’s no surprise that the state tops the list in terms of recovery of unaccounted cash in this election. According to latest official data, more than Rs 200 crore in cash has been seized from the state, highest in the country, followed by Andhra Pradesh (Rs 137 crore) and Telangana (Rs 68.82 crore).
Peculiar case of Tamil Nadu
This is not for the first time that election commission has cancelled an election in the state. Earlier also, India’s apex poll body had cancelled the RK Nagar assembly by-election in Tamil Nadu in 2017 following the charges of money being paid to voters. RK Nagar assembly seat was held by J Jayalalitha and after her death in December 2016, winning the seat had become a prestige issue for ruling AIADMK and main opposition party DMK. However, TTV Dhinakaran, nephew of VK Sasikala, a close associate J Jayalalitha, later won the by-election in December 2017.
A year before that, the Election Commission had countermanded the election in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur assembly seats in May 2016 following the reports that two largest political parties in the state – AIADMK and DMK – were allegedly offering bribes to voters to vote for them.
2012 Rajya Sabha Election
In 2012, then chief election commissioner SY Quraishi had ordered cancellation of Rajya Sabha election in the state of Jharkhand after recovery of over Rs 2.15 crore in cash on the polling day from a vehicle linked to brother of an independent candidate.
The election commission had ordered the cancellation after receiving reports from returning officer of Jharkhand Assembly. In its report, the returning officer had informed the election commission that three MLAs, Vishnu Bhaiya of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), KN Tripathi of Indian National Congress and Suresh Paswan of Rashtriya Janata Dal had shown their ballot papers to people other than authorized poll agents of their parties.
While NRI businessman Anshuman Mishra was backed by BJP, RK Aggarwal, a rich businessman from neighbouring Chhattisgarh was backed by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and a Kolkata based businessman Pawan Kumar Dhoot was also in the fray.
Then BJP President Nitin Gadkari was criticised by his party colleagues LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj for backing a wealthy NRI businessman Anshuman Mishra from Jharkhand.
JMM’s Sanjiv Kumar and Congress candidate Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu had won the Rajya Sabha polls in May 2012 when fresh Rajya Sabha election was conducted in the state.