Seek action against founder Vijayakant

Ignoring the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam’s show-cause notice for voting against the party line in the recent Rajya Sabha election, seven dissident MLAs are seeking to turn the tables on their erstwhile leader Vijayakant.

They have represented to the Election Commission that action should, instead, be initiated against Mr. Vijayakant, DMDK founder, for having tried to exercise “undue influence” on them.

The dissident MLAs, in their petition addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner, were said to have complained that the “whip” issued to them would be tantamount to exerting “undue influence” on them to cast their votes in favour of the official DMDK candidate, A. R. Elangovan.

This, according to them, should be punishable under Section 171 C of the Indian Penal Code. Sources say the complainants preferred criminal action to be taken against Mr. Vijayakant for having issued the whip. The rebel MLAs are Michael Royappan, K. Pandiarajan, C. Arun Pandian, R. Sundararajan, K. Tamil Azhagan, R. Shanthi and T. Sureshkumar.

While suspending the seven MLAs from the primary membership of the party, Mr Vijayakant, who is also holding the post of general secretary, directed them to give their response by July 10 for having defied the direction of the party whip V.C. Chandhirakumar during the Rajya Sabha polls. Mr Vijayakant also wanted them to vote for Mr. Elangovan.

Disqualification

The question of legal action against the DMDK founder apart, the Election Commission, at the time of Presidential election last year, clarified, quoting its press notes issued earlier and observations of the Supreme Court in two cases, that voting in the Presidential election was not compulsory, as in the case of voting in respect of polls to the Rajya Sabha or State Legislatures where also there was no compulsion to vote. As per the definition of “electoral right” in Section 171 A (b) of the Code, every elector in the Presidential election had the right to vote or not to vote. Though political parties were free to seek votes for any candidate or appeal to them to refrain from voting, they could not issue any direction or whip to their members to vote in a particular manner or not to vote.

In the Kuldip Nayar v Union of India (AIR 2006 SC 3127) case, the court, answering the question whether provisions of 10th Schedule to the Constitution would be attracted in the case of the election to the Rajya Sabha if a member of a State Legislative Assembly voted for a candidate in defiance of his or her party’s directions, where the votes were now given by the system of open voting, observed that such an elector would not attract the penal provisions for having so voted in the Rajya Sabha election. This was because elections to the Rajya Sabha constituted non-legislative activity and not a proceeding within the Assembly.

As for their response to the DMDK leadership’s show cause notice, none of the dissidents had replied. “He threatened to take action against us. Why is he hesitating? Let him go ahead,” said Mr. Royappan, the Radhapuram MLA.

Sources close to Mr. Vijayakant said the leader was not in a hurry to take action against the MLAs as that might only facilitate them to join the AIADMK officially.

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