Be it the venue or the number of vehicles used, day one of the election campaign by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Virudhunagar Lok Sabha constituency on Monday saw violation of rules or regulations which are otherwise seen during any election conducted by the Election Commission of India.
For, the model code of conduct (MCC) was yet to come into force. And the ruling party turned this situation to their maximum advantage during the launch of the election campaign.
Scores of party cadres, led by party’s Madurai rural district secretary M. Muthuramalingam, assembled in front of Sri Subramania Swamy Temple at Tirupparankundram. At least a couple of vehicles with stickers reading “Tamil Nadu Arasu” (TN Government) were seen ferrying the cadres to the venue.
The cadres waved party flags and plastic models of party symbol – double leaves – while waiting for party candidate D. Radhakrishnan to arrive from Virudhunagar district.
Minister for Information and Special Schemes K.T. Rajendra Balaji, who is also the party district secretary, reached the venue in a convoy of not less than 30 vehicles that choked the traffic on Sannathi and West Car Streets. The Election Commission has restricted the number of vehicles in the poll campaign convoy to four.
While the MCC stipulated that votes should not be canvassed near places of worship, the party cadres were seen entering the temple with flags as the leaders and the cadres went inside for a special puja.
The initial speech seeking votes for “double leaves” was made by both Mr.Muthuramalingam and Mr.Balaji, very much in front of the temple.
Madurai Collector L. Subramanian said the MCC would come into force only after the Election Commission announced the election schedule. He added that the officials would start monitoring the campaign only after the announcement.
Hence, all the expenditure incurred by the AIADMK for the campaign till the announcement of election schedule would not be accounted for in the candidate’s election expenditure, a party functionary said. Otherwise, the party would have been forced to account for every flag and party symbol the cadres carried while seeking votes.
Similarly, the time limit of 10 p.m. for canvassing votes was also not applicable now, the party functionary added.