In a first, the Election Commission on Saturday recommended cancelling polls to two Tamil Nadu assembly seats following evidence of use of money to influence voters, saying the atmosphere there is “seriously vitiated” to hold the democratic exercise at this stage.
From these two constituencies, cash of over Rs 8 crore has been seized. Authorities also recovered over 2,500 litres of liquor, besides gifts like silver, dhotis and sarees meant during searches.
While cancellation of polls normally takes place following evidence that rigging, muscle power and booth capturing was done to influence polls, this is the first time the poll body is recommending cancellation of polls because of voters being bribed with money, EC said.
The Commission has recommended to Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah to cancel the notification regarding holding of polls to Aravkurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies.
The Commission also said it will recommend to the Governor a revised schedule to hold the polls afresh for the two constituencies in due course of time.
In a detailed 29-page recommendation, the Commission said Rosaiah’s ‘observation’ that the postponement of elections to the two constituencies will deprive the members to be elected from these constituencies to vote in the coming Rajya Sabha elections “is an extraneous consideration inasmuch as the members elected on the basis of an election which is not free and fair would not be true representatives of the electors of these constituencies.”
It also said that “there is no requirement under the law that for conducting the elections to the Rajya Sabha, all the seats in the legislative assembly should be filled.”
Earlier, EC had on two occasions postponed polls to Aravkurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies following reports of large scale distribution of money and gifts to voters by the candidates and political parties.
Initially, the polls were postponed from May 16 to May 23. On May 21, EC had decided to once again postpone the polls to June 13.
Tamil Nadu went to Assembly polls on May 16 when AIADMK returned to power for a second consecutive term.
EC said it took the decision after considering reports of observers, special teams of central observers, report of the special team of observers of Aravkurichi and Thanjavur constituencies and representations of contesting candidates.
“…the EC is satisfied that the election process in the two constituencies, because of inducing electors by candidates and political parties by offering money and other gifts to woo them in their favour, is seriously vitiated and cannot be allowed to proceed and ought to be rescinded so that fresh elections may be conducted de novo in these two constituencies when the atmosphere becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair elections after a reasonable lapse of time,” the Commission said.