Winding up his poll campaign in his former constituency Chepauk on Tuesday, DMK leader M. Karunanidhi decided to speak his mind to the people, articulating his deep disappointment with the official machinery tasked with conducting the elections in the state. DMK cadre was losing their confidence that free and fair elections to the Lok Sabha could be held this time, he said, charging that a few officials in the State Poll machinery were disposed in favour of the ruling party.

Claiming that the State was slowly heading from democracy to authoritarianism and that a few officials in the poll machinery were to be blamed for it, Mr. Karunanidhi wound up the election campaign with a public meeting at Chintadripet (which falls under the Chepauk constituency), seeking votes for the party’s nominees for the Chennai seats: Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai), R. Girirajan (North Chennai) and T.K.S. Elangovan (South Chennai).

The 25-minute speech was dominated by the DMK leader’s charge against the poll machinery for failure to check poll irregularities by the AIADMK.

Distribution of cash and freebies by the ruling party was going on unabated and any attempt by the DMK cadre to resist, oppose or protest was futile, he said.

It was the duty of the poll machinery to ensure people’s rule through free and fair elections, but unfortunately it was failing in its duty, he charged.

Even leaders like Kamaraj, Rajaji and Anna faced defeats but they had faced elections with absolute integrity. He said that at the rate at which the ruling party was indulging in poll irregularities and poll machinery failing to check it, people’s representatives and rulers could be anointed in future. Polling could take place in party offices and voters could be asked to collect cash and freebies from party offices, he said in his scathing attack. 

Recalling his political career, Mr. Karunanidhi said that he had contested twelve elections to the State Assembly and had won all of them. He added that his political mentor C.N. Annadurai often used to point out that “Irrespective of one’s 'selvakku' (which means influence as well as affluence), electoral victory should be through “sellum vakku” (valid votes), earned through means of integrity and only there lies real victory.

He exhorted the cadre to work for the victory of the party’s nominees by banking only on people’s strength and confidence.