RK Nagar bypoll: EC scraps April 12 polling as voter bribery charges fly

This is the second time that the poll panel has rescinded elections following evidence of money being used to influence voters.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Updated: April 10, 2017 8:02 am
 rk nagar bypoll, rk nagar bye-elections, jayalalithaa, sasikala, aiadmk, chennai, tamil nadu by-election, election commission, byelection cancelled in rk nagar constituency, bribery, cash for vote, india news, tamil nadu news, indian express The Election Commission (File Photo)

The Election Commission (EC) cancelled the R K Nagar bypoll in Chennai late Sunday night in wake of allegations of voters being bribed. The R K Nagar bypoll, necessitated by the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, was to take place on April 12.

The commission will conduct elections afresh “in due course of time”, sources said. The EC invoked its special powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to take the decision, a day after the Income Tax Department alleged that the V K Sasikala camp, which is fighting in RK Nagar the bypoll under the name AIADMK (Amma), had paid close to Rs 90 crore to voters to buy support for its candidate T T V Dinakaran. The allegations were based on I-T searches conducted Friday at 35 properties of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar.

The I-T Department claimed to have seized four diaries during the raids which carried details of bribes to the tune of Rs 89.5 crores, allegedly paid to voters of R K Nagar seat. This prompted the commission to call for a detailed report from the Tamil Nadu CEO Saturday.

The EC team monitoring the R K Nagar bypoll had written to the commission, detailing evidences of bribery and malpractices during the poll campaign.

“Besides the documents proving crores of money spent to bribe voters, we have also received 120 video evidences of party men visiting voters and distributing currency. Out of 120 videos we received through Whatsapp, 100 are against T T V Dinakaran of AIADMK (Amma) and 20 are against the DMK candidate. This shows the veracity of violations that happened during this campaign. The bypoll may be cancelled by Monday,” an official had told The Indian Express on Saturday.

According to sources, the EC met on Sunday afternoon and took the decision after considering the reports of the state CEO and central observers. “The commission felt that the election process had been completely vitiated because of bribery and could not be allowed to continue,” said a source.

This is the second time that the poll panel has rescinded elections following evidence of money being used to influence voters. Last May, in an unprecedented decision, the EC had cancelled polls in two seats — Thanjavur and Aravakurichi — after both AIADMK and DMK were found bribing voters.

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