The Election Commission has recommended to President Ram Nath Kovind that polling in the Vellore parliamentary constituency scheduled to be held on Thursday be cancelled, The Indian Express reported. The poll panel cited the suspected use of money to influence voters.
It is not clear whether bye-elections in two Assembly seats – Ambur and Gudiyattam – under the Vellore Lok Sabha seat will also be countermanded or will be held as planned on Thursday. The Rashtrapati Bhavan reportedly received the poll body’s proposal to cancel polls in the seat on Monday night and it will be shared with the Law Ministry on Tuesday.
Election Commission’s official spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan, however, told ANI that the poll panel has not issued any order regarding cancellation of polls in Vellore.
According to Hindustan Times, the Election Commission will decide on Tuesday whether polling should be cancelled there based on a report from the Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer. “The Election Commission will take a call on whether the election atmosphere has been vitiated,” an unidentified official said.
If notified by the president, Vellore will be the first Lok Sabha seat where elections have been countermanded over abuse of money power, according to The Indian Express.
The poll body’s recommendation to cancel elections in Vellore came in the wake of Income Tax officials seizing Rs 15.13 crore cash from the house of Poonjolai Srinivasan, a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionary, who is believed to be a close associate of DMK Treasurer Durai Murugan in Vellore district, according to The Hindu.
Searches were also held at the Vellore house of Durai Murugan’s son, Kathir Anand, from where officials seized around Rs 10.5 lakh unaccounted cash on March 29. Kathir Anand is the DMK candidate in Vellore. The Vellore district police had filed a complaint against Anand and two party functionaries on the basis of a report from the Income Tax department on April 10.
On April 1, a second Income Tax search was launched based on information that illegal cash was being moved from a college owned by the Durai Murugan family to a cement warehouse in Vellore and officials seized Rs 11.53 crore.
In 2017, the Election Commission had countermanded elections to the RK Nagar Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu twice. In April 2016, the poll body had postponed elections in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur during the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, after cash amounting to crores was recovered from sites belonging to persons close to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.