The Election Commission has stepped up security and surveillance ahead of Thursday’s bye-election in Chennai’s RK Nagar constituency, to ensure that contesting leaders do not try to buy their voters this time, Mint reported. Campaigning for the bye-polls ended Tuesday evening.

The RK Nagar seat fell vacant after its MLA, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, died in 2016. The bye-election was scheduled for April but was cancelled after complaints that cash was being distributed among voters.

This time, the Election Commission has appointed nine observers, 2,500 security personnel, 200 surveillance cameras, 75 flying squad teams and 20 monitoring teams with video recording devices to watch the polls, Mint reported.

Despite the arrangements, there were local media reports that cash was being distributed in the area, and several families admitted to taking money.

“Each one of us has earned close to Rs 20,000 in this election alone,” a jewellery box retailer from the area told The News Minute. “Cooker [TTV Dinakaran’s AIADMK faction] is giving us Rs 10,000. Two leaves [Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s faction] is giving Rs 6,000 and the DMK is giving Rs 2,000.”

Leaders are also distributing money from lodges outside the constituency, according to Firstpost.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni said news reports claiming that the bye-election had been cancelled again were untrue.

On Sunday, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Working President MK Stalin wrote to the Election Commission, asking it to disqualify E Madhusudhanan – the candidate fielded by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – from the RK Nagar bye-election for allegedly buying voters. Stalin alleged that the AIADMK had distributed more than Rs 100 crore to the electorate.

DMK leaders also claimed they caught an AIADMK worker in one of the constituency’s neighbourhoods going door to door and paying each family Rs 6,000.

A day earlier, the police seized at least Rs 25 lakh in cash from more than 15 places in the constituency, The Hindu quoted unidentified officials as saying.