The Election Commission of India late on Saturday decided to defer the polls in the Aravakurichi Assembly constituency, in Karur district, following widespread seizure of cash and complaints of voters being bribed. Separately, the EC issued notices to the AIADMK and the DMK, asking them to explain the rationale behind the promises made in their election manifestos and indicate how they would meet the financial outlays (for freebies) by Sunday evening.
Polling in Aravakurichi will now be held on May 23, and the results declared on May 25, a week after the results are announced in the remaining 233 constituencies where voting will take place on May 16.
In a release, the EC said over Rs. 6.75 crore had been seized in the constituency.
Meanwhile, citing a complaint sent by retired IAS officer M.G. Devasahayam and others, the poll panel issued notices to AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK president M. Karunanidhi.
The notice said, “The Commission has gone through your party manifesto and has prima facie found that your manifesto has not substantially fulfilled the guidelines of the Commission on election manifestos.”
Seized money meant for bribing voters: EC
Justifying its decision to defer the polls to the Aravakurichi Assembly constituency at the eleventh hour on Saturday evening, the Election Commission of India said it had received complaints received on distribution of money to voters.
An ECI press release said on April 22 the Income Tax Department conducted a search at the residence of Anbunathan in Aravakurichi, where Rs.4.77 crore was seized along with some other incriminating documents.
A “number of notings showing proximity to some prominent Ministers of the Tamil Nadu government and belonging to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)” came to light.
On May 10, the IT Department conducted a search at the residence of DMK candidate for the constituency K.C. Palanisamy and his son K.C.P. Sivaraman in Chennai and Karur, where Rs. 1.98 crore was seized, including Rs.95 lakh seized from the candidate’s house.
“The Commission has very carefully analysed and examined the whole situation. Now from the facts narrated above, the irresistible conclusion is that all the above seized monies and gift items were meant for distribution to electors as illegal inducement to them,” it stated.
The Commission was satisfied that the electoral process in the Aravakurichi constituency has been “seriously vitiated on account of unlawful activities of the candidates and political parties and their workers in bribing the electors and unlawfully inducing them by offering money and other gifts of consumable items to woo them in their favour”.