The RK Nagar by-elections in Tamil Nadu may be postponed in the wake of the cash-for-votes exposé that surfaced on Friday after the Income Tax officials conducted raids in Chennai, reported The Times of India. The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Saturday submitted its report to the Election Commission in Delhi, and said that at least Rs 89 crore was kept aside to be distributed to the RK Nagar votes by the VK Sasikala camp of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
According to the documents seized during the raids, the price of one vote in RK Nagar was Rs 4,000, reported IANS. “In our report, we have stated about the seizure of documents, distribution of cash to the RK Nagar voters, the bribe received by the officials from drug suppliers and some other things,” an unidentified official told the news agency.
The I-T department, in its reports, has named seven senior AIADMK leaders, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, Forest Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan and Finance Minister Jayakumar, reported Deccan Chronicle. Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar is believed to have accepted that the party gave money to voters.
The Sasikala camp had planned to distribute the cash to 85% of the voters before the by-polls, according to reports. Palaniswami had allegedly approved the distribution of Rs 13.27 crore among 33,000 voters, reported NDTV. Tamil Nadu’s Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhani and Chief Election Commissioner Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi will meet on Monday to take a decision, reported India Today.
The I-T officials have also recovered over Rs five crore from the associates and relatives of Vijayabhaskar whose property was raided on Friday. The officials had raided actor-turned-politician Sarathkumar’s residence in Kottivakkam in South Chennai as well.
Campaigning for the by-election to the RK Nagar seat has been intense as this constituency was earlier held by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Both factions of the ruling party have accused each other of buying votes.
In May 2016, the poll panel had cancelled the elections in Thanjavur and Aravakurichi constituencies ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections after it was found that both the AIADMK and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam were bribing voters.