Cash, Lamps, Saris For Votes: Why Chennai's RK Nagar By-Poll Was Scrapped

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Cash, Lamps, Saris For Votes: Why Chennai's RK Nagar By-Poll Was Scrapped

After RK Nagar by-polls, Election Commission will examine validity of VK Sasikala's elevation

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Election Commission cancels by-poll in Chennai's RK Nagar
  2. Ministers were allegedly given targets to buy votes for TTV Dinakaran
  3. AIADMK workers were allegedly caught giving saris, lamps and hats
A day after the by-election in Chennai's RK Nagar constituency was cancelled amid allegations of vote-buying by the ruling AIADMK, its candidate TTV Dinakaran accused the Centre and the Election Commission of stopping the polls because he was winning.

"No money was paid even without my knowledge. The election was stopped because people are with us," Mr Dinakaran, the nephew of jailed AIADMK chief VK Sasikala, told NDTV.

By-polls to the constituency left vacant after J Jayalalithaa's death were scrapped by the Election Commission just three days before voting on Wednesday. Income Tax officials say raids on Friday on a minister and an actor supporting Mr Dinakaran have revealed documents including a detailed "payment plan" of 89 crores to bribe voters.

"The documents released by the IT department are forged and their authenticity is a question," said Mr Dinakaran.

The RK Nagar battle symbolises the larger fight for the legacy of Jayalalithaa between her long-time friend VK Sasikala and her loyalist O Panneerselvam or OPS. Both lead rival factions of the AIADMK. 

Sources say with the by-poll deferred by at least three months, the Election Commission will examine the validity of Ms Sasikala's appointment as interim general secretary of AIADMK, which was challenged by OPS.

Ms Sasikala appointed Mr Dinakaran as her deputy before going to prison in February for corruption. Ministers -- including Mr Vijayabaskar, Chief Minister E Palaniswami, Forest Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan and Finance Minister Jayakumar - were allegedly given targets for bribing RK Nagar voters, documents seized in the raids indicate. The Chief Minister was allegedly tasked with distributing Rs 13 crore to 33,000 voters.

Inducements were also given in the form of phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscriptions and milk tokens, money transfer to mobile wallets and cash slipped in with newspapers and milk delivery. Workers were caught distributing cash, hats, scarves, lamps and sarees.

Each voter was to be paid Rs. 4,000, said tax officials. The RK Nagar constituency is divided into 256 segments and the target was to reach out 85 per cent of the 2.6 lakh voters.

 

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