The by-election to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from Andipatti in Theni district, scheduled to be held along with polls to 38 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State on Thrusday, is likely to be put off following seizure of Rs 1.48 cash from the office of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam party on Tuesday night by income-tax officials.
Andipatti was one of the 18 constituencies fell vacant after its representative Thanga Tamil Selvan was disqualified after he switched loyalty to breakaway AIADMK leader and current AMMK chief T T V DInakaran. He is running for Theni Lok Sabha seat while a local AMMK functionary is the candidate in Andipatti.
The speculation that the by-election may be cancelled has started as the Election Commission has got a report from the IT department about the cash haul in Andipatti. A similar raid in Vellore led to cancellation of the Lok Sabha polls there.
The cash in 500-rupee bundles was recovered from a local office of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam led by breakaway AIADMK leader T T V Dinakaran in Andipatti Assembly segment which comes under the Theni Lok Sabha constituency.
The raid, which started on Tuesday night, ended in the early hours of Wednesday and IT officials said the bundles had markings of ward numbers and number of voters in each ward. B. Murali Kumar, Director General I-T (INV), Chennai, said that the cash was neatly packed in 94 packets/envelopes on which the ward number, number of voters and the amount at Rs 300 per voter was written. All the wards mentioned are within the Andipatti assembly segment.
The premises belonged to a functionary of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) party. In addition, the AMMK party office was found functioning on the ground floor. Murali Kumar said a report on the raid would be sent to the Election Commission of India and the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
While the AMMK candidate for Andipatti was flummoxed when a television channel called him for his reaction about cash haul, party spokesperson C R Saraswathi, while not committing herself about the source of the money, said the IT officials called the media only five hours after the search began and they showed cash which they said they had recovered from the premises.
She also said the Election Commission had taken no action on her party’s complaints about distribution of money by AIADMK men to voters while canvassing for their candidate and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam’s son Raveendranath who is running for Lok Sabha from Theni in which Andipatti segment falls.