After three decades, Congress tastes victory in Virudhunagar

MDMK protests against “sudden difference” of over 21,000 votes

VIRUDHUNAGAR: The Congress party won a Lok Sabha seat from Virudhunagar district after three decades when its candidate B.Manik Tagore defeated Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko.

S.Jayalakshmi was the last Congress candidate to win from Sivakasi Lok Sabha constituency in 1971 and 1977.

Mr.Tagore was declared winner by a margin of 15,764 votes amidst protest from the MDMK that there was a “sudden difference” of over 21,000 votes between the number of votes counted (7,66,242 votes, excluding postal ballots) on Saturday and the number of votes declared as polled (7,44,880) immediately after polling on Wednesday.

Virudhunagar Collector and Returning Officer K.Raghupathi said Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta had asked him to go by the number of votes recorded in electronic voting machines and go ahead with the declaration.

“Your protest has been recorded. You can also give it in writing,” Mr.Raghupathi told the MDMK agent before handing over the election certificate to Mr.Tagore.

Later, the Returning Officer told reporters that the lower number of votes declared as polled (in Form 17C) on Wednesday was “clerical error” while compiling data of polled votes from all the polling booths of Thirumangalam Assembly constituency.

(According to data available from Form 17C the total number of votes polled in Thirumangalam Assembly segment is 1,30,109 as against the number of votes counted on Saturday – 1,51,287. There was also variation in the number of votes in the two declarations made by the Returning Officer in the other Assembly segments of Virudhunagar Lok Sabha seat – Tirupparankundram, Sattur, Sivakasi, Virudhunagar and Aruppukottai).

While Mr.Tagore polled 3,07,187 votes, Mr.Vaiko got 2,91,423 votes.

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam candidate K.Pandia Rajan, stood third with 1,25,229 votes followed by Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and actor M.Karthik (17,336), and former IAS officer and Bahujan Samaj Party candidate V. Kanagaraj (8,198).

The victory of debutant candidate Mr.Tagore has put an end to the winning streak of the MDMK from Sivakasi Lok Sabha seat, which became Virudhunagar Parliamentary seat post-delimitation. The MDMK won thrice in a row in 1998 and 1999 (Mr.Vaiko) and in 2004 (A.Ravichandran).

Among the 1,866 postal votes counted, 455 were declared invalid.

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