RK Nagar bypoll 2017: The campaigning for December 21 bypoll to the RK Nagar assembly seat ended today. Such has been the interest in the fight for Late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa’s seat that it is being seen as a litmus test for the ruling AIADMK in the state for the last 17 months. The by-election was necessitated following the demise of then Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa in December last year. The campaign was led by several top leaders of different parties including Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam of the AIADMK, DMK leader MK Stalin and sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran. The RK Nagar bypoll has become a battle of pride for parties as Jayalalithaa represented the constituency earlier. Expectedly, the campaign was marred by several controversies. Take a look at some of them:
- In April this year, Election Commission had canceled RK Nagar bypoll after a cash-for-votes scandal broke out. RK Nagar was set to go to polls on April 12 but it was canceled after IT sleuths searched properties and offices belonging to Tamil Nadu health minister C. Vijayabaskar on April 7 across the state. While searching premises of an associate of Vijayabaskar, IT official discovered Rs 89 crore was routed for “distribution to voters” in the R.K. Nagar constituency.
- Times of India published a report last month that several voters were encouraged by the April experience and were interested in exchanging their votes for cash. TOI had revealed that a code ‘Sami Kumbitaacha’ (Did you offer prayers to God) was used to confirm cash transactions.
- A few days ago, DMK leader MK Stalin alleged that the ruling AIADMK had distributed Rs 100 crores to people for the RK Nagar bypoll. He also demanded the rejection of AIADMK candidate E Madhusudhanan. It has been alleged that AIADMK camp is spending Rs 6000 per voter to help Madhusudhanan win. TTV Dhinakaran has also allegedly spent Rs 6000 per voter and DMK – Rs 2000 per voter.
- AIADMK’s Madhusudhanan had alleged that TTV was distributing pressure cookers worth over Rs 1.5 crore to voters. India Today reported locals as saying that TTV camp distributed Rs 300 per day for 10 days for those who attended his rallies. Some said that AIADMK had already finished distributing the money. The Election Commission has so far seized around Rs 30 Lakh. Interestingly, some men were caught in RK Nagar distributing biriyanis along with bills of Rs 2000.
As many as 59 candidates are in the fray for the bypoll. The main candidates are Madhusudhanan, DMK’s greenhorn Maruthuganesh, and Dhinakaran. During the campaign, old rivals Stalin and MDMK founder Vaiko were seen sharing the stage for the first time in many years.