Vellore LS seat to witness three-cornered contest

Vellore LS seat to witness three-cornered contest

The Vellore Lok Sabha seat will witness a three-cornered contest between ruling AIADMK, Opposition DMK and Tamil nationalist outfit, Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK), when it goes to elections on August 5. Other players – T T V Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) – have decided to boycott the polls.

DMK’s Kadhir Anand, son of party treasurer Durai Murugan, educationist and former MP A C Shanmugam and Deepa Lakshmi of NTK were the only candidates to file nominations from registered/recognised political parties as submission of nomination papers ended on Thursday evening.

With this, the election will be a three-cornered contest. The polls will be held on August 5 and counting of votes will be taken up on August 9.

Elections to Vellore Lok Sabha constituency was rescinded in April, after the Election Commission of India (ECI) concluded that “unlawful activities” including inducement of voters through cash by Anand has made “free and fair elections” impossible there. It said that during the raids, a total of Rs 11.48 crores was seized from the residence of Damodaran, the brother-in-law of a DMK functionary, Srinivasa. Most of the money was packed in plastic packets with ward-wise details.

The elections in Vellore is keenly awaited in political circles, as it would indicate whether Tamil Nadu still nurses anti-Modi sentiments even after the BJP has returned to power with a bigger majority. It would also put DMK President M K Stalin's leadership skills to the test again, who pulled off a spectacular win for the alliance by bagging 37 out of 38 seats that went to polls.

The AMMK has said it would contest polls only after the process of registering the party ends. The MNM on Thursday said it has decided to boycott polls in Vellore as no action was taken in cases filed against various people during the April polls before they were cancelled.

Cash for votes is a reality in Tamil Nadu, where political parties spend huge amount of cash to tilt votes in their favour. Besides Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, bypolls to Dr R K Nagar Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu was also rescinded in November 2017, due to allegations of rampant use of money power.