The Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) Friday sought calling off the Sulur bypoll scheduled on May 19 after authorities denied permission for party chief Kamal Hassan to campaign there.
The party said permission was denied citing law and order issues and that many petitions had been sent, requesting denial of permission for the campaign, MNM General Secretary A Arunachalam said in a petition to the Election Commission of India.
Earlier, the Coimbatore police had denied permission to Haasan following a furore over his ‘free India’s first extremist was a Hindu’ remarks, due to which Haasan could not undertake campaigning on Friday.
Arunachalam said permission had been sought for the campaign today and that MNM had been orally informed it would be granted.
“Much to our dismay, on May 16 the relevant authority has passed an order, denying permission for our president to campaign on the requested day (may 17) when all arrangements for the campaign were already done, based one the oral assurance.
The permission was denied, citing law and order issues and that many petitions had been sent, requesting denial of permission for the campaign,” he said.
Arunachalam said even after Haasan’s May 12 election speech at Aravakurichi, where he had made the “free India’s first extremist was a Hindu remark was made in reference to Nathruam Godse, there was no violence or law and order breakdown in any of Haasan’s campaigns.
Permission was denied on “frivolous grounds,” Arunachalam said.
“If indeed there was an issue of law and order, then it is responsibility of the authorities to strengthen the security to prevent any law and order issues.
Denying permission to campaign was a violation of democratic norms, he said, adding officials were duty bound to take proper steps to ensure that the campaign continued.
Rather than take such steps, the authorities had “arbitrarily denied’ permission for the campaigning, he said, adding such incidents have forced the party to express anguish and disappointment against the election commission in ensuring free and fair elections.
“Thus we humbly request that the commission and its authorities are indeed of the opinion that public safety and law and order will be compromised in the Slur assembly constituency, then the by-election there should be called off, stating the afore mentioned grounds,” he said
Arunachalam also submitted a copy of the petition to Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo.