EC rescinds Tiruvarur by-poll

Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday rescinded by-polls to Tiruvarur assembly constituency scheduled for January 28 citing relief and rehabilitation works due to Cyclone Gaja. The ECI’s announcement overturning its own decision of conducting polls despite a red flag from the Tamil Nadu government and cancelling it a week later is intriguing, political parties alleged.
 
In a five-page detailed order released in New Delhi, the ECI said the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Tamil Nadu in a letter on Sunday sought the postponement of polls in Tiruvarur which is pre-occupied in relief and rehabilitation works due to Cyclone Gaja. The CEO had also stated Pongal festivities as one of the reasons for seeking postponement of polls.
 
The ECI’s decision prompted Opposition parties to question the independent nature of the agency, seeking to know why the election was announced in the first place and rescinded within a week. They also pointed to ruling AIADMK not naming the candidate for the January 28 elections,
suggesting that the agency had “colluded” with the ruling party in Tamil Nadu.
 
In the order, the ECI said Girija Vaidyanathan, the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, wrote to it on December 3, 2018, apprising the situation in the Cyclone-affected areas and not conduct by-polls to Tiruvarur and 18 constituencies that have fell vacant due to disqualification of MLAs owing allegiance to T T V Dhinakaran till April.
 
“Why did the ECI announce the polls? Who were they trying to help? Did the ECI announce the polls and cancelled it later only to avoid facing flak from the courts?” DMK’s nominee Poondi S Kalaivanan asked.
 
The DMK had announced Poondi S Kalaivanan as its candidate, while the rebel AIADMK faction led by T T V Dhinakaran had named S Kamaraj as its nominee. Though the DMK announced its candidate, its representatives sought postponement of polls during a meeting that the District Election Officer presided over on Saturday citing Gaja rehabilitation work.
 
Tiruvarur in the Cauvery delta region fell vacant after Karunanidhi's death in August. While the DMK had fielded Poondi S Kalaivanan, the TTV Dinakaran faction had named S Kamaraj as their nominee.
 
The by-polls would have served as an acid test for new DMK chief M K Stalin as the stakes are quite high since Tiruvarur is Karunanidhi’s native place and he represented the constituency from 2011 till he breathed his last on August 7 last year. It would have just not decided Karunanidhi’s successor from Tiruvarur but would have also given an indication of people’s mindset ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
 
This is the second time in two years that by-polls have been cancelled in Tamil Nadu -- elections to R K Nagar was cancelled in April 2017 due to large scale distribution of money.
 

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EC rescinds Tiruvarur by-poll

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