President Ram Nath Kovind has cancelled the election for the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu after a massive huge cash haul from a godown belonging to a DMK leader in the district. The presidential order was based on a recommendation by the Election Commision Of India.
Acting on a report received by the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer, the Election Commission recommended to the President to cancel the polling at Vellore parliamentary constituency where election was scheduled to be held on April 18.
The Election Commission provided a detailed account of the recoveries made during raids at various places, including a cement godown that belonged to a close associate of DMK leader Kathir Anand who is contesting elections from Vellore.
Kathir Anand is the son of senior party leader and party treasurer Durai Murugan. Kathir Anand was locked in a tough contest against NDA candidate A. C Shanmugham, a well known educationist from the region. Shanmugham runs his own political outfit called New Justice Party (NJP) but was contesting on the two leaves symbol of ruling AIADMK.
Durai Murugan, a party strongman and a nine-time MLA from Katpadi assembly segment, was a close associate of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. He continues to wield huge clout under the Stalin led DMK dispensation and was the key interlocutor for the party in stiching up alliances in the run up to the election.
Kathir Anand was in contention for the party ticket in 2014 Lok Sabha election but the seat was finally allocated to DMK ally Indian Union Muslim League. Durai Murugan was briefly disenchanted with the party leadership but eventually reconciled. The candidature of Kathir Anand for 2019 elections was a foregone conclusion so much so that he had commenced his campaign even before the party made an official announcement.
“Accepting the recommendation of Election Commission of India dated 14th April 2019, the honourable President is pleased to rescind election to 8-Vellore Parliamentary Constituency Tamil Nadu to elect a member to Lok Sabha,” said a senior Election Commission officer.
Last week, enforcement agencies had conducted raids at several places in Vellore area and seized huge cash and jewellery to the tune of Rs 12 crore from various places, including the premises belonging to the DMK leader.
An FIR was also filed against Kathir Anand after the cash seizure during the raids by income tax officials.
Kathir Anand will also be charged under the Representation of People Act for giving "wrong information" in his election affidavit filed along with his nomination papers, police said. The other two, identified as Srinivasan and Damodaran, will be booked under bribery charges.
All Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu will go to polls during the second phase of polling on 18 April. As many as 23 candidates are contesting the Vellore Lok Sabha election.
With this decision, Vellore will carry the ignominy of becoming the first seat in the history of independent India where the Lok Sabha elections have been countermanded over abuse of money power.
In 2017, the Election Commission had cancelled the RK Nagar Assembly by-election after complaints that voters had been bribed.