Today's Paper

`Vaigai' Sekhar to take on Jayalalithaa

CHENNAI, JAN. 20. Setting at rest the speculation of boycott, the DMK today decided to field its Andipatti union secretary in the byelection.

`Vaigai' Sekhar alias Balasundaram, 38, contested the 1996 elections in Andipatti as an MDMK candidate and polled 17,521 votes.

Presenting the candidate here, the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, said his party would adopt ``all democratic'' means in its campaign. He stressed that Mr.Balasundaram was the ``NDA candidate'' for Andipatti.

The general secretary, K. Anbazhagan, who answered questions, said the DMK would highlight the manner in which the elections were being held ``to help the ruling party''. It would also lay emphasis on the ``anti-people policies'' of the AIADMK Government and focus on the increase in prices of essential commodities, bus fares and electricity charges.

Asked if postponement of elections would have made a difference to the DMK's chances in the constituency, he said more important was the fact that postponement would have ensured a free and fair election. Justice would have been done if the byelection was deferred.

The DMK ``requests and wants'' support from parties which had decided not to contest, Mr. Karunanidhi said and added that the choice of the candidate was decided by the party after great deliberations.

Meanwhile, the DMK deputy leader in Parliament, C. Kuppusami, wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner, demanding that he recommend the removal of the ``erring Election Commissioner, T. S. Krishnamurthy, under the Article 324 (5) for not discharging the mandated tasks under the Article 324, 325 and 326. He did not bother to apply his mind in an unbiased manner and failed to curb the malafides that may materially affect the results of the election''.

The five-page letter, signed by four MLAs - M. A. Vaithialingam, S. A. M. Hussain, Parithi Illamvazhuthi and E. V. Velu - and MP, A. Krishnaswamy, apart from Mr. Kuppusami, contended that the Election Commissioner ``did not apply the same yardstick and same standards'' to Andipatti as he did in the other two constituencies, Saidapet and Andipatti, where elections have been put off.

They said they ``were shocked by the announcement by the commission that by-elections to Saidapet and Vaniyambadi would be postponed and by-election to Andipatti would be held according to schedule''.

``Most importantly, the revised electoral rolls in the constituency were not at all publicly displayed for reasons best known to the officers concerned''.

``Against the provisions of the Article 325 and 326, thousands of persons had been made ineligible for inclusion in the electoral roll of Andipatti and thousands had been included from the neighbouring constituencies''.

Mr. Kuppusami said they did not get even an explanation when this was pointed out. They requested the CEC to ``render justice by using a single standard and same yardstick for all the three Assembly constituencies''.

Reacting to the letter, the DMK chief said major decisions such as considering the issue of postponing bypolls for Andipatti should have been done in consultation by the three-member Election Commission. Mr. Krishnamurthy did not consult others and acted on his own, he alleged.

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