EC to probe irregularities in R K Nagar

EC to probe irregularities in R K Nagar

Poll panel acted on IT report on cash disbursal

EC to probe irregularities in R K Nagar

Among the many accusations that the Election Commission decided to probe is one against the ruling AIADMK faction on handing out a large number of hats, caps and scarfs in R K Nagar constituency where the bypoll was cancelled late on Sunday.

The EC’s expenditure observer found that contrary to AIADMK (Amma) candidate T T V Dinakaran’s claim that his team had only paid Rs 30,000 for 1,000 hats (which is his election symbol), the shopkeeper, whose address is mentioned in the bill, said he had supplied 10,000 hats per day to the party.

The EC observer concluded that Dinakaran’s team had withheld the actual cost of 10,000 hats, which worked out to Rs 3 lakh. There were also complaints of distribution of cash and goods like sarees, lamps, popularly known as kuthu villaku, and household articles. As many as 12 FIRs were registered in this connection on the basis of the evidence obtained by the EC’s mobile teams.

But what forced the EC to cancel the bypoll was a report from the income tax department on April 8. Acting on a tip-off on tax evasion and distribution of cash in R K Nagar, the I-T department told the EC that it had raided 21 places in Chennai and 11 other in Tamil Nadu, which belonged to state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and his associates.

The I-T officials found that a sum of Rs 89 crore had been distributed among the voters. An additional Rs 5.6 crore was seized from Vijayabaskar and two other acquaintances of Sasikala loyalists.

These seizures proved that a large-scale bribery scandal was in progress to swing the election, the EC noted in its order. The I-T department had informed the commission that the raids on Vijayabaskar’s house showed that the Sasikala faction had given Rs 4,000 to every voter in R K Nagar.

The I-T department said papers with signatures of those who received money were found at Vijayabaskar’s house. The minister, however, condemned the raids, calling them politically motivated. In all, documents with the I-T showed that seven ministers were given a cumulative target of 2,24,145 voters.