The Election Commission on Tuesday told a DMK delegation that elections to three out of 21 seats to fill the vacancy in the Tamil Nadu Assembly can be held once pending cases are withdrawn.
The EC conveyed its view to DMK’s Rajya Sabha members Tiruchi Siva and T K S Elangovan when they handed over a representation from DMK president M K Stalin against holding by-elections only for 18 seats and putting off the polls in the other three constituencies. The constituencies where by-elections have been put off are Aravakurichi, Tiruparankundram and Ottapidaram. Losing candidates have challenged the election of AIADMK candidates in these three constituencies.
The EC said it was the general rule was to put on hold wherever an election petition was pending. Briefing reporters in New Delhi after meeting the officials, Siva and Elangovan said they pointed to the EC that a petition challenging the election of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram from Sivaganga in 2009 was still pending and yet elections were held in 2014.
The EC explained that was because the term of the previous Lok Sabha had ended whereas the term of the Tamil Nadu Assembly was still continuing and so only a by-election could be held to fill the vacancy which could be held up if cases were pending. The EC told them that it was ready to hold the by-elections even now if they submitted orders from relevant courts, dismissing their petitions as withdrawn.
Asked why the unsuccessful DMK candidate in Tiruparankundram Saravan had not withdrawn the case all these while, the two denied that it was because the DMK was equally reluctant to face by-elections. They said they did not know that this could be cited as a pretext to hold up a by-election when EC rules clearly said vacancies should be filled in six months.
Asked whether the EC was propping up the Edappadi Government which has only a working majority in the Tamil Nadu Assembly after the disqualification of 18 of its legislators and lost two more because of death and disqualification, the two leaders said it was up to the commission to be not only fair but seen to be fair.