The by-election to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency was “rescinded” by the Election Commission late on Sunday night April 09,2017
Polling was scheduled to take place on April 12.,2017
The Commission is yet to announce a new date for holding the by-election.
“The bye-election to fill the vacancy Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency shall be held by the Commission 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 and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election,” the Commission said in its 29 page order which was released past midnight Sunday April 092017
The Commission expressed its “anguish” over the sordid state of affairs which have been revealed in the reports of the Election Expenditure Observers, Election Expenditure Monitoring Teams (Static Surveillance Teams, Flying Squad Teams, Video Surveillance Teams) and reports of the Income Tax Authorities. The EC order adds that the innovative ways in which the political parties and their leaders at the top echelons have devised ways to bypass the law enforcing authorities entrusted with the task of keeping an eye on the unauthorised and illegal expenses incurred in the conduct of election campaigns of their party candidates need to be dealt with “with a heavy hand.”
Pointing out that some States have particularly excelled in innovating more and more subtle ways to circumvent the statutory provisions enacted by Parliament to curb the menace of money power in elections, the Commission says that the top leaderships of the parties cannot pretend to be ignorant about illegal activities being indulged in by the candidates set by them and also by the managers appointed by the parties to oversee the election campaigns of their candidates.
“If not their express consent, their tacit approval of resorting to such undesirable activities on the part of their candidates and electoral managers cannot be wished away. It is high time that they exert their moral influence and legal authority to reign in their erring candidates and electoral managers without loss of time, if democracy is to flourish and deepen its roots in our country,” the Commission’s order says.
To ensure free and fair election in RKNagar based on the complaints of political parties, the Election Commission transferred 22 police officials and 18 officers from the revenue side. Further, one Assistant Commissioner, two Executive Engineers, four Assistant Executive Engineers and four Assistant Engineers were also transferred.
But the use of money power to influence voters and violations of the Model Code of Conduct kept surfacing. Preliminary results of search and seizure action by the income tax authorities show that ₹ 5 crore in cash was seized from the confidantes of Dr C. Vijaya Baskar, the Tamil Nadu, Health Minister and from his native place. Further distribution charts, ward-wise and voter-wise, entrusted to each of these politicians totaling ₹ 89 crore were found and seized from the room allotted to Dr Vijaya Baskar in the MLAs' hostel, the Commission order states.
On the complaints of distribution of money, gift articles and violation of the Model Code of Conduct till April 7, ₹ 18.80 lakh was seized and 35 FIRs were registered. Apart from cash, various items such as lamps, t-shirts, silver plates, mobile phones and sarees, which distributed to workers were also seized.
Incidentally this is not the first time that the Commission has cancelled elections. In May last year elections in the Aravakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly Constituencies in the elections to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly were also cancelled. Similarly in March 2012 the biennial election to the Council of States by members of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly was rescinded after complaints received by the Commission that certain candidates were indulging in bribing voters. An amount of about ₹ 2 crore was seized by the enforcement agencies on the day of the poll which was suspected to be used for bribery in that election.