TN: Voting In Vellore Cancelled After IT Dept Unearths Over Rs 11 Cr Linked To DMK
Acting upon the request of the Election Commission, President Ram Nath Kovind on April 16 cancelled the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu Vellore constituency over “unlawful activities” of DMK candidate Kathir Anand and some of the party workers. This came after seizure of at least Rs 11 crore in cash from the DMK leader’s associate in raids. The move was reportedly, part of a systematic design to influence voters through large-scale cash distribution. Vellore was scheduled to go on polls on April 18 along with 38 other constituency seats in the southern state.
However, as reported by Firstpost, Anand has now written to the Election Commission, alleging that EC is colluding with BJP to help their candidate. He writes in the letter that raids were staged to get a “bogus report” from the IT department, “which acted as judge, jury and executioner”. He also called his detention illegal, to further help the BJP-AIADMK candidate. He has alleged that AIADMK’s candidate from the constituency AC Shanmugam is engaged in large scale cash distribution.
Why were the elections cancelled?
According to a notification issued by the law ministry said that the EC informed President Kovind, “allowing the current electoral process to proceed and conducting the poll in the said constituency on April 18, 2019…in such a vitiated atmosphere would severely jeopardise the conduct of free and fair elections,” reported The Times Of India. With this, Vellore became the first Lok Sabha seat this polling season where elections have been countermanded over the alleged use of money to abuse the democratic electoral process.
Income Tax department sleuths during raids had discovered a massive stash of Rs 11.48 crore cash was unearthed during income-tax raids at premises owned by DMK functionary Poonjolai Srinivasan’s brother-in-law Damodaran in Vellore. Reportedly, Srinivasan later claimed ownership of the money.
What was found during the raids?
IT officials are of the opinion that this cash was probably shifted from the residences of either Kathir Anand and his father Durai Murugan, who is a DMK MLA and treasurer, or Kingston medical College run by the Durai Murugan Educational Trust, which was raided by the IT officials a few days ago. Reportedly, the amount was found packed in plastic packets with ward wise details. In addition to this, unused labels, loose sheets with details of the ward-wise breakup of voters and documents related to Kingston Engineering College were found at Damodaran’s residence.
It officials are of the opinion that since Srinivasan does not have any explained source of income and that the documents found with the cash with connection to the institution run by the DMK leaders show the nexus between him and the family of the DMK candidates.
Tamil Nadu electoral officer’s report on April 12 also showed similar sentiments and stated that it suggests a clear-cut pattern and designed to induce the electors across the constituency. This act comes under the ambit of “corrupt practices” as per Section 123 of the RP Act, 1951. Earlier in 2016, during the state assembly polls, votings in two constituents were reportedly cancelled for the same reasons. However, the DMK contested that the raids were politically motivated and that they were “undemocratic”.
A report compiled by the EC on progressive poll-related seizures till April 16 shows that at Rs 204.77 crores, Tamil Nadu has the highest cash seizures among all states. Even for the seizure of precious materials, Tamil Nadu stands first.