TAMIL NADU

Chidambaram declared winner after 21 rounds of counting

Neck and neck: Union Home Minister and Congress candidate for the Sivaganga constituency P. Chidambaram at the Alagappa Chettiar College counting centre in Karaikudi on Saturday.

Neck and neck: Union Home Minister and Congress candidate for the Sivaganga constituency P. Chidambaram at the Alagappa Chettiar College counting centre in Karaikudi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: L. Balachandar

C. Jaishankar

SIVAGANGA: The Minister and Congress candidate for the Sivaganga constituency P. Chidambaram established a lead of 3,354 votes over R.S. Rajakannappan of the AIADMK at the end of 21 rounds of counting on Saturday.

Though all rounds of counting were completed, the result was officially declared only late on Saturday as the AIADMK candidate lodged a complaint with Returning Officer Pankaj Kumar Bansal and the Election Observers that there was irregularity in counting and the result should be withheld until recounting was completed.

High drama

As per the official figure, Mr. Chidambaram secured 3, 34, 348 votes. His nearest rival Mr. Rajakannappan got 3,30,994 votes. Barwatha Regina Papa of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhgam secured 60,084 votes.

Earlier, high drama was witnessed at the Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology at Karaikudi, the counting centre, following the conflicting unofficial counting details revealed by the AIADMK and the Congress camps. The AIADMK agents claimed that they had got around 4,000 votes more than Mr. Chidambaram. As news spread, a large number of AIADMK supporters thronged the counting centre, burst firecrackers and distributed sweets to all passers-by. The AIADMK candidate also came to the RO’s room to receive the winning certificate.

Another unofficial figure claimed that Mr. Chidambaram had got 348 votes more than Mr. Rajakannappan, causing confusion and tension in and outside the counting centre. A few AIADMK workers pelted stones at the convoy of Mr. Chidambaram when he entered the centre for the second time on Saturday.

Foul play suspected

The AIADMK candidate told the Returning Officer that the officials had erred in counting the votes polled in a few segments, including Alangudi Assembly segment, and sought a recount. Mr. Bansal told him that all his complaints would be properly studied.

Later, speaking to mediapersons, Mr. Rajakannappan alleged that he suspected foul play by officials influenced by a “powerful politician and high authorities.” He had insisted that the result should be withheld until the recounting was completed. He would also approach the Election Commission on the “irregularities” in counting.

He added that the officials had not openly announced the total votes polled in the Sivaganga Parliament constituency.

The officials could not tally the votes polled in the Tirupattur Assembly segment. They did not even announce the official lead at the end of each round over public address system

When asked about the complaint lodged by Mr. Rajakannappan, Mr. Bansal told The Hindu that he had updated the entire proceedings with the Election Commission officials. He had maintained transparency in the proceedings. All aspects of complaint would be studied and suitable action would be taken as per procedure, he assured.

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