The Election on Thursday declared that all steps would be taken to curb money power in Tamil Nadu where 30 Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly by-elections are being held simultaneously on April 18.
Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Susil Chandra along with two deputies who interacted with officials and representatives of political parties in the last two days, told reporters that officers had been asked to take “effective and visible measures” on the basis of “lots of feedback on abuse of money power”.
It would be done by GPS enabled flying squads, static surveillance teams and those in border check posts. The two officials said strict vigil would also be kept on supply of liquors and other freebies to voters.
Considering the sensitivity of the expenditure related issues, each Lok Sabha constituency would have at least two expenditure observers. In addition, there would be a special expenditure observer at the State level, the officials said.
The Election Commission’s stress on money distribution and freebies assumes significance as Tamil Nadu been made notorious by the Thirumangalam formula of 2006 perfected by DMK’s renegade son Alagiri to target neutral voters for bribery and turned into a fine art by late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha later. So much so, the former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthi went on record that Tamil Nadu had overtaken States like Bihar in money distribution.
Actor politician and Makkal Needhi Maiyam leader Kamal Hasan, whose party is contesting all the Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, has made it his plank. At a meeting in Chennai on Thursday he told the poor not to sell their voting rights for a few thousands rupees and give licence to politicians to loot the tax payers money for the next five years.
More than cash for vote, it is targeted raids by income tax on opposition parties that have become a major issue with DMK president M K Stalin alleging that the raids senior party colleague Durai Murugan and his son Kathir Anand, who is a candidate in Vellore, is a ploy to countermand the polls.
Stalin told a meeting on Wednesday that two Assembly segments of Ambur and Gudiyatham, where by-elections are scheduled, come under Vellore Lok Sabha constituency. If the Lok Sabha polls are countermanded, the bypolls in the Assembly segments can also be put off.
He said the AIADMK government, which has only a working majority in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, had high stakes in the Assembly by-elections as its survival would depend on their outcome.
While IncomeTax officials have claimed to have recovered Rs 10.5 lakh black money from the residence of Durai Murugan and the college run by his son, Stalin asked whose money was it and from where it was recovered. He alleged that the bundles of cash recovered from a cement godown in Vellore were planted by the AIADMK men to get the poll put off.
Adding substance to his fears, senior Minister D Jayakumar said after meeting top Election commission officials on Wednesday that the AIDMK had demanded that the DMK candidate should be disqualified if it was proved that he bribed voters.