Accepting the recommendations of the Election Commission, President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday cancelled polling in Vellore, making it the first Lok Sabha seat to have had its elections countermanded over abuse of money power. Moreover, polling in East Tripura constituency has been deferred from April 18 to April 23, Tripura deputy CEO Suman Rakshit said.
Vellore was scheduled to go to polls with the rest of Tamil Nadu on April 18.
The development comes two days after the Election Commission recommended to the President that elections in Vellore be cancelled citing the suspected use of money power to influence voters after huge cash seizures from DMK leaders over the last two weeks.
Cash was seized from the premises of DMK veteran leader and party treasurer Duraimurugan’s son Kathir Anand’s house in Vellore on March 29.
Subsequently, on April 1, based on information that illegal cash was being moved from a college owned by the Duraimurugan family to a cement warehouse in Vellore, a second I-T search was launched and Rs 11.53 crore was seized.
While searches at Anand’s residence, who is the DMK’s candidate in Vellore Lok Sabha constituency, yielded seizures of around Rs 19 lakhs, official scrutiny later found that only Rs 10.50 lakh was the excess or the unaccounted cash.
In connection with the I-T seizures, on April 10, Tamil Nadu police filed an FIR against Anand, and two others, Poonjolai Srinivasan, the owner of the cement warehouse and Damodaran, for their alleged links to DMK and Duraimurugan family.
The total seizures of unaccounted cash, drugs, liquor, precious metal and freebies, purportedly meant to influence voters, stands at Rs 2,550 crore, of which the highest – Rs 499 crore – is from Tamil Nadu.
The EC, in 2017, had countermanded elections to the Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu twice.
In April 2016, during the TN Assembly elections, the EC postponed polls in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, after cash running into crores was recovered from sites belonging to persons close to the AIADMK. In 2012, elections to two Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand were scrapped for the same reason.