When weather forecast postponed TN elections

When weather forecast postponed TN elections

Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat flanked by Election Commissioners Sunil Arora (L) and Ashok Lavasa (R) address a press conference to announce the dates for Assembly elections in five states, in Delhi, on Saturday. PTI

The Election Commission of India’s decision not to announce dates for by-polls to two assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu following a request from the state government that the election be deferred due to “monsoon season” and a court case has kicked up a political storm.

The decision has spawned questions whether the EC and bureaucracy are trying to help the AIADMK government, which wakes up to a crisis knocking on its door every day, in postponing the polls. The postponement has come at a time when the government is awaiting the verdict in the case relating to disqualification of 18 MLAs owing allegiance to rebel leader T T V Dhinakaran.

There was an expectation that the by-polls to Tiruvarur and Tiruparankundram constituencies, which fell vacant due to the death of its representatives M Karunanidhi and A K Bose, would be announced on Saturday along with the poll schedule for five states. However, the EC did not announce the schedule for Tamil Nadu, but fixed dates for by-polls to Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka.

The EC has apparently postponed the announcement based on a request from Tamil Nadu chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, who in a letter written to the poll agency, cited deferment of by-polls in Tiruvarur due to the north-east monsoon, which is likely to be “above normal” this year.

“As the state machinery would be fully mobilised to handle thee contingencies, it is not advisable to notify by-elections during this period,” she wrote.

With regard to Tiruparankundram, she requested deferment citing a pending case in the high court — the losing candidate of the DMK, Dr P Saravanan, wants him to be declared as winner questioning validity of the nominations of AIADMK's Bose.

Opposition parties and political analysts say the reasons cited by the chief secretary are “more political than administrative.” They said the AIADMK government has sought postponement of the polls since it was “scared of facing the public” on flimsy grounds. The chief secretary too seems to have forgotten the fact that by-polls to Dr R K Nagar constituency in Chennai were held last year during the monsoon season.

“What is the ulterior motive of the Election Commission that did not announce by-polls in Tamil Nadu, but declared the schedule for general elections to five states and by-polls in Karnataka?  The AIADMK has postponed the elections through chief secretary since they know they cannot win the elections.

“The latest move has proved that the Election Commission and chief secretary that they are the mouthpieces of the ruling AIADMK,” Opposition Leader M K Stalin said in a social media post.

The EC came under criticism last year too when it announced by-polls to R K Nagar a day after it resolved the symbol dispute between two factions of the ruling AIADMK.