Expressing anger over the cancellation of R K Nagar bypolls following allegations of rampant corruption and bribery, the Sasikala camp termed the Election's Commission decision as 'undemocratic'.
“It is a wrong decision by the Election Commission. I don't know the reason (why they are doing this) maybe even the EC does not want me to win so they are trying to postpone the polls. It is undemocratic,” AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran told ANI.
This came even as Sasikala welcomed the EC’s move saying as quoted by ANI, “I thank the Election Commission for reacting to my letter which I have given as a complaint on this issue day before yesterday. This election is not being handled in a free and fair manner that’s why the Commission had to intervene. Constitutionally it has been proved that our democracy is alive by this decision.”
The Election Commission on Sunday night cancelled the bypoll to the R K Nagar constituency in Tamil Nadu – to be held on Wednesday – saying that electoral process has been “seriously violated” by parties through money power.
After several rounds of meeting with Tamil Nadu election officials, the Election Commission decided to rescind the election notification.
It said the by-election will be held in "due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors...gets removed with the passage of time".
"The Commission is fully satisfied that the current electoral process...in Tamil Nadu has been seriously vitiated on account of unlawful activities of the candidates and political parties and their workers by bribing the electors and unlawfully inducing them by offering money and other gifts of consumable items to woo them in their favour," the EC said in an order late on Sunday night.
The decision came after the Income Tax Department, in a series of high-profile raids on Friday, seized Rs 5.5 crore in cash after searches on the premises of Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and found documents revealing details of Rs 89 crore being channelled to RK Nagar.
Vijayabaskar, who is the first state minister to come under the lens of taxmen, is among the key campaigners in the by-polls.
There were also several complaints of alleged money distribution by AIADMK's Amma faction.
The seat fell vacant after the death of the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5 and the by-poll is being viewed as a battle of prestige for the two factions of the AIADMK. The AIADMK (Amma) faction is led by V K Sasikala. The other faction is led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam.
"Many complaints were received by the ECI on possibilities of inducement of electors by distributing cash and gifts in innovative forms like tokens, prepaid phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscription, milk tokens, money transfer in no frill accounts in banks and even mobile wallet payment to mobile numbers," the EC said.
"Generally in an assembly constituency, only 3 FSTs (Flying Squad Teams) and 3 SSTs (Static Surveillance Teams) are deployed during any election, but for the R K Nagar constituency, the deployment of these squads was increased manifold and total of 61 teams were deployed keeping in view the sensitiveness of the constituency and past experience." it said.
On May 27 last year, the EC had recommended to the Tamil Nadu Governor to cancel the notification to hold polls to the Arvakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies following evidence that a large sum of money was used to influence the voters there.
Tamil Nadu had gone for Assembly polls on May 16 last year after which the AIADMK returned to power for a second consecutive term.
The Commission had used its constitutional powers in March 2012 recommending to the President cancellation of the notification for a Rajya Sabha biennial election from Jharkhand even when the polling had concluded after it found that money was used to influence voters.