Tamil Nadu elections: Two confident leaders and a Rs 570-crore cash confusion

Karunanidhi, in turn, wrote, “Jayalalithaa is an embodiment of ego and arrogance”, and that her statements with phrases such as “my government” and “I announce” will not be forgotten by the people.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: May 15, 2016 4:05:49 am
M Karunanidhi with his wife Rajathi Ammal during a campaign in Chennai. (Source: PTI) M Karunanidhi with his wife Rajathi Ammal during a campaign in Chennai. (Source: PTI)

On the back of her letter on Friday, exhorting party workers to walk the last mile to repeat a victory in Monday’s election, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa sent another missive to AIADMK cadres on Saturday, predicting that the party is in for a “landslide victory”. Her arch-rival, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, also wrote a similar open letter to his party workers, stating that Tamil Nadu will become “Amma Nadu” if Jayalalithaa returns to power.

As the bitterly fought campaign drew to a close, minor skirmishes between workers of the two main parties were reported from several places in the state, including one at DMK leader M K Stalin’s rally in his constituency Kolathur, while BJP’s Anna Nagar candidate K Suresh was admitted to hospital after he was allegedly attacked by AIADMK cadres. BJP leaders claimed Suresh was attacked when he tried to stop them from distributing cash.

But in a campaign marked with an unprecedented flow of money — more than Rs 100 crore has reportedly been seized until now — the sensational event of the day was not any of this. It was the seizure of three trucks in Tirupur district in eastern Tamil Nadu on Saturday morning. As the vehicles sped away when asked to stop, officials from the Election Commission’s flying squad gave them a chase and flagged them down.

Between them, the three vehicles were carrying Rs 570 crore cash, kept in boxes. While EC officials refused to release the trucks initially, it later turned out the money was being transferred by the State Bank of India (SBI) from Coimbatore in the state to Vishakapatnam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Carrying on with the letter campaigning, Jayalalithaa wrote that given the “overwhelming response” at her poll meetings — the first one in Chennai on April 9 and winding up with one in Tirunelveli on May 12 — “I feel my party will get a landslide victory”.

Karunanidhi, in turn, wrote, “Jayalalithaa is an embodiment of ego and arrogance”, and that her statements with phrases such as “my government” and “I announce” will not be forgotten by the people. Adding sarcasm, he suggested that the AIADMK chief should change her slogans from “I live for the people, and only for the people” to “I live for myself, and only for myself”.

Meanwhile, in Tirupur, EC officials refused to release the three trucks after the security guards in the vehicles were carrying photocopies, and not original papers, of documents stating that it was SBI cash.

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