Note for vote touched a new high on Saturday in the R K Nagar which is going to the polls on Dec 21 with the DMK and the AIADMK rebel faction alleging that Rs 100 to 125 crore was distributed by the AIADMK Government which is fighting for survival. The going rate was Rs 6,000 a vote against Rs 4,000 promised and paid last time in April when the poll was cancelled for precisely the same reason of large-scale bribery of voters.
The entire money was distributed to voters in broad daylight on Saturday itself ahead of the visit of Election Commission Special Secretary Vikram Batra's visit to oversee the polls. Several television channels showed visuals of party men having crisp 2000-rupee notes in their pockets.
It is a do or die battle for the AIADMK as it has already been reduced to minority and is surviving with the blessing of Modi Government and an obliging Governor who refused to ask it to take floor test. This seat was held by late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and the by-election has been caused by her death. If the AIADMK loses it, its government will fall.
The Leader of the Opposition and DMK working president M K Stalin, who met Vikram Batra at the State Secretariat, told reporters that his party had given 20 specific complaints, with video evidence of AIADMK men moving with loads of money and distributing them among voters .
He charged that the money was distributed under the supervision of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and his Ministers and with the connivance of the State Police and even the Election Commission which, despite having numerous observers, took no notice of complaints.
He said the DMK men caught several cadres of the AIADMK and AIADMK Dinakaran group giving money to voters and provided video clips to the police but no action was taken. He said State Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni was not reachable.
Stalin said Rs 100 crore was distributed on Saturday itself. But despite such malpractices, the AIADMK would not even get deposit, he said..
P Vettrivel, a legislator from Perambur adjoining R K Nagar and a supporter of rebel AIADMK leader T T V Dinakaran also met Vikram Batra and gave a similar petition. He said the AIADMK had pumped Rs 125 crore into the constituency at the rate of Rs 6000 a vote for two lakh voters.
Vettrivel who vacated R K Nagar for former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in 2015, said: "The AIADMK leaders brought money in a scientific manner into the constituency, using police vehicles and ministerial cars, and stashed it in a local peripheral hospital, local co-operative office and even the RTO office by Ministers in charge of Health, Co-operative and Transport and distributed it with police protection".
He said even so the AIADMK would come a poor third and even lose it deposit."This Government has stopped supply of sugar, kerosene and pulses from ration shops. The people are not fools to vote for you. They may take the money and still vote against you".
State president of the BJP Tamizhisai Soundararajan, who also met Batra, supported the opposition charge that money had been distributed on a large scale this time also.
Denying the allegation, AIADMK leader and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambi Durai told reporters after meeting Batra that the opposition parties were crying foul out of fear of defeat.