ON SUNDAY, just two days ahead of the scheduled by-election in Chennai’s RK Nagar constituency, the Election Commission announced cancellation of the polls and asserted that it will conduct the fresh elections in ‘due course of time’.
The high-stakes by-election was cancelled by the Election Commission over allegations of voters being bribed with cash and gifts. A detailed "payment plan" of 89 crores was revealed in raids on Friday on state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, accused of working for the VK Sasikala faction of the ruling AIADMK.
The RK Nagar constituency fell vacant after the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016. Ever since, it has become a battleground for the warring factions that emerged within the party with her close aide VK Sasikala and O Panneerselvam.
While Sasikala prepared to contest the polls from this constituency, her chances were washed off by her conviction in the disproportionate assets case in February this year. She is serving a four-year jail sentence for corruption and appointed her nephew TTV Dinakaran as deputy general secretary before going to prison in February.
According to Indian Express report, the decision was taken by the Election Commission after considering the reports submitted by state Chief Election Officer and central observers in a meeting.
The reports said that a raid by Income Tax sleuths on 35 different properties associated with Health Minister C Vijayabaskar revealed that the Sasikala fraction, which is fighting the elections under the name of AIADMK (Amma), had paid close to Rs 90 crore to the voters as a bribe in exchange of votes.
120 video evidences of party workers visiting the voters and paying them bribe were found. Out of these, 100 incidences were reported from Sasikala faction and 20 from Panneerselvam faction, as per an official source.
This is the second time that the EC has annulled elections in Tamil Nadu over reports of bribery. Earlier, in May last year, elections in two constituencies – Thanjavur and Aravakurichi – were scrapped after use of money to buy voters by both AIADMK and DMK was reported.