President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted the Election Commission’s plea on Tuesday to cancel voting in Vellore, following seizure of at least Rs 12 crore in cash from a DMK leader’s associate in raids.
The decision comes as monumental amounts of unaccounted wealth have been seized in the state during Lok Sabha election season and bypolls in Tamil Nadu.
Vellore was scheduled to go to polls on April 18 with 38 other parliamentary constituency seats in Tamil Nadu.
“Accepting the recommendation of Election Commission of India dated April 14 2019, the honourable President is pleased to rescind election to Vellore parliamentary constituency, Tamil Nadu to elect a member to Lok Sabha,” said EC in a statement.
With President’s approval to rescind the elections in Vellore, it became the first Lok Sabha seat where elections have been countermanded over alleged use of money to abuse the election process.
Over the past few weeks, there have been several cash seizures from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leaders in Tamil Nadu.
Subsequently, the EC wrote a letter to the President, highlighting the use of unaccounted wealth to influence election results in the state.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan had received the Election Commission’s proposal on Monday night and the decision seemed iminent as the EC’s request could not be ignored after the massive cash haul.
The recommendation to cancel elections in Vellore was due to cash seizures from the premises of Poonjolai Srinivasan’s brother-in-law Damodaran in Vellore.
Srinavasan had later claimed the ownership of the Rs 11.48 crore cash seized in raids.
I-T officials were of the view that the cash may have been shifted from the residence of Kathir Anand and his father Durai Murugan, who is a DMK MLA and treasurer or Kingston Medical College, which is run by Durai Murugan Educational Trust.
The I-T raid was carried out on April 1, leading to the seizure of almost Rs 12 crore. Following this, the EC had sent the recommendation to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
While this may be the first instance in Tamil Nadu where polling for a parliamentary seat has been cancelled due to abuse of money power, elections have been cancelled earlier in the state over such incidents.
Just over a couple of years ago, EC cancelled the bypolls in RK Nagar due to the same reason: abuse of money power, distribution of gifts to voters. EC said it would hold the vote when “the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gifts gets removed with time”.