Jayalalitha rubs salt on two-year-old poll wound

Jayalalitha rubs salt on two-year-old poll wound

P Chidambaram PTI

In the controversial election, AIADMK candidate Raja Kannappan,  who belongs to  OBC Yadava community, very nearly trounced his formidable Congress opponent Chidambaram, a Nagarathars community member. Chidambaram had earlier elected six times to Lok Sabha since 1984 from the Sivaganga constituency.

After a tension-charged counting of votes in Sivaganga and contrary reports on the round leads, both candidates claimed victory. Though Raja Kannappan had been leading in four of the six Assembly segments, Chidambaram was eventually declared the winner  by a margin of 3,354 votes.

Kannappan protested even then, and lodged a complaint with the returning officer, claiming that there was “irregularity in counting” and pleaded for “withholding the result” until a recount was done.

Challenging Chidambaram’s election to LS, Raja Kannappan had in June 2009 filed an election petition in the Madras High Court, following which justice K Venkatraman ordered to issue notices to the Home Minister and 19 others.

Kannappan in his petition had alleged that the entire official machinery in Sivaganga was then “made to work overtime” to ensure the Congress nominee’s victory. He wanted the court to declare Chidambaram’s election as “null and void”, as the poll officials had allegedly transferred the votes polled by him in Alangudi Assembly segment of Sivaganga Parliamentary constituency in favour of the Congress candidate.

Even as the petition was pending in the Madras High Court, a few days before the 2011 Assembly election counting, Jayalalitha, citing a crucial document appended to Raja Kannappan’s petition, wrote to  Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, drawing his attention to the alleged irregularities.

During the counting, the votes polled in favour of the AIADMK candidate, especially in 11 booths of Alangudi Assembly segment, were “entered in favour of Congress candidate P Chidambaram” and vice-versa by the data entry operators while “making entries in Form 20”.

Since Kannappan’s petition was under the court’s scrutiny,  the EC officials then refused to comment on the Sivaganga episode. However, this was possibly a reason why the EC decided to videograph the entire counting process in the 2011 Assembly elections, sources said.

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