Expressing its anguish over the sordid state of affairs in Tamil Nadu during the campaigning for the RK Nagar elections, the Election Commission has postponed the poll indefinitely.
In a statement released by the Commission, that explains the events leading up to this decision, the Commission has said that political parties have adopted innovative ways to bypass law enforcing authorities entrusted with the task of keeping an eye on the unauthorised and illegal expenses incurred in the conduct of election campaigns. Admitting that steps taken to curb the malpractice had failed, the Election Commission stated that the bye-poll shall stand rescinded.
Putting the onus of change on political parties, the report states that, "The top leaderships of the parties cannot feign ignorance about such illegal activities indulged in by the candidates set by the parties and the managers appointed by their parties to oversee the the election campaign of their candidates." The commission further demanded that the parties exert moral influence in the matter. "It is high time that they exert the moral influence and legal authority to reign in their erring candidates and electoral managers without loss of time, if democracy is to flourish and deepen its roots in our country," the report added.
Generally, in an assembly constituency, only 3 Flying Squad Teams (FSTs) and 3 Static Surveillance Teams (SSTs) are deployed during any election, says the report. But for the RK Nagar Assembly Bye election, the deployment of these squads was increased manifold and total of 61 teams were deployed keeping in view the sensitiveness of the constituency and past experience. "A total of 277 persons in 61 teams operating round the clock were put on job for enforcing the provisions of MCC, particularly, stopping distribution of cash or gifts in any form," the report states. The ECI claims it did not leave any stone unturned to ensure free and fair election.
However, despite the additional efforts and deployment of heavy security, this election has now been stopped due to the EC's inability to curb corruption. "The bye-election to fill the above vacancy in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 11-Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency shall be held by the Commission in due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors, as mentioned above, gets removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election," the EC said.
RK Nagar seat had fallen vacant after the demise of former TN Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, and the bye-elections had become a test of strength for two AIADMK factions and the DMK.
The Election Commission had examined reports sent by the Income Tax department and by state Chief Electoral Officer. Documents seized after raids on Health Minister Vijayabaskar had indicated that crores of money had been set aside for distributing to voters in the constituency.
According to the documents seized by the I-T officials during their raids in Chennai on Friday and published by some media houses, the price of one vote in the by-poll bound RK Nagar constituency is Rs 4,000.