Eight years ago, it was the ‘Thirumangalam formula’ that made headlines. During the 2009 Thirumangalam bye-elections, the ruling DMK, led by its Madurai strongman MK Alagiri, the elder son of party chief MK Karunanidhi, allegedly bribed voters systematically with cash.
Today, if the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction belonging to former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is to be believed, the modus operandi has changed. Cash is no longer the only currency operating in the RK Nagar bye-elections.
In a complaint filed to the Election Commission on Tuesday, the OPS faction accused the AIADMK (Amma) of wooing voters with gifts bought from e-retailers like Flipkart and Amazon.
Speaking to The News Minute, Manoj Pandian, former MLA, says, “They order gift items in bulk from Flipkart and Amazon and they send it to NBT Quarters in Tiruvottiyur. They then give tokens to voters and ask them to collect it.” Tiruvottiyur, incidentally, does not come fall in the RK Nagar limits but is in Chennai North.
While Pandian says that the AIADMK (PTA)’s legal team detected the malpractices on Monday, they fear that the bribes are still taking place in the constituency. He also added that the party has submitted evidence to the EC.
“It is very clear from the occurrences that persons with criminal background, if they are allowed to enter the poll fray, they will indulge in malpractices. They innovate new and scientific methods to bribe voters,” hit out Pandian at TTV Dhinakaran, AIADMK (Amma)’s candidate.
Meanwhile, the OPS camp has submitted another complaint to the EC on Wednesday. They alleged that Rs 4000 was distributed to all voters in RK Nagar from 3am to 7am on Wednesday. Pandian also claimed that Dhinakaran had spent Rs 80 crore in the bye-election so far.
A voter in RK Nagar shot a video of a person offering Rs 4,000 for a vote.
Bribing the voter
Tamil Nadu has had a murky history when it comes to bribing voters. Wooing voters with cash and other gifts is an open secret and the Election Commission was forced to cancel elections in the two constituencies of Aravakurichi and Thanjavur during the May 2016 polls.
Instead of handing over cash, politicians have been innovating ways to bribe voters over the years. While some give amenities like kitchen appliances, others prefer gold rings and some politicians pay off your dues with pawn brokers.
The RK Nagar bye-polls, scheduled for April 12, has been fraught with accusations and counter accusations from the two AIADMK factions. With the EC freezing the party name and the two leaves symbol, both factions have accused the other of covertly using the AIADMK symbol. While TTV Dhinakaran had filed a complaint alleging that the OPS camp was morphing its electric pole symbol to resemble two leaves, AIADMK (PTA) has alleged that the rival party has been using the frozen party symbol on social media.