By-elections in Chennai’s RK Nagar constituency – to be held on Wednesday – have been cancelled by the Election Commission following cash-for-votes allegations.
The decision came after Income Tax raids in Chennai found money was distributed to voters. Stakes for the by-polls were very high as the results would have been a verdict of sorts in the war between the two rival factions of the ruling AIADMK.
“The Income-Tax authorities have also informed that several complaints were received recently indicating that Dr. Vijaya Baskar is the main person involved in bribing the voters in R.K. Nagar Assembly constituency which was to go to the polls on 12th April, 2017.
Some loose sheets were found with his accountant Mr. Srinivasan indicating distribution of ₹89 crore to a number of politicians for further distribution among the voters,” the Election Commission’s order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners O.P. Rawat and A.K. Jothi said.
Declaring the entire process of the election null and void, the EC said the byelection would be held by the Commission in due course when “the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors… gets removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election.”
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 Vijayabaskar.