New Delhi: The Election Commission late on Sunday cancelled the April 12 bypoll to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu over the use of money power to influence voters.
The move prompted an angry reaction from TTV Dinakaran, the candidate of VK Sasikala’s AIADMK (Amma) faction, who said the poll panel had made the wrong call.
After several rounds of meeting with Tamil Nadu election officials, the Election Commission decided to rescind the election notification.
It said the by-election will be held in "due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors...gets removed with the passage of time".
The cancellation of elections comes after sleuths of the Income Tax Investigation wing conducted searches in properties and offices belonging to Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar on Friday across Tamil Nadu. The searches on premises of an associate of Vijayabaskar revealed routing of Rs 89 crore for "distribution to voters" in RK Nagar Assembly constituency which was scheduled to vote on April 12.
Vijayabaskar is a prominent loyalist of AIADMK (Amma) faction's candidate TTV Dinakaran.
There were also several complaints of alleged money distribution by AIADMK's Amma faction. Rubbishing the charges, AIADMK leader CR Saraswathi said: “It is not true at all. No one can be seen clearly in the video.”
The seat fell vacant after the death of the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5 and the bypoll is being viewed as a battle of prestige for the two factions of the AIADMK.
The AIADMK (Amma) faction is led by VK Sasikala. The other faction is led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam. On May 27, the EC had recommended to the Tamil Nadu Governor to cancel the notification to hold polls to the Arvakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies following evidence that a large sum of money was used to influence the voters there.
Tamil Nadu had gone for Assembly polls on May 16 last year after which the AIADMK returned to power for a second consecutive term.
The Commission had used its constitutional powers in March 2012 recommending to the President cancellation of the notification for a Rajya Sabha biennial election from Jharkhand even after the polling had concluded after it found that money was used to influence voters.(With PTI inputs)