The month-long High decibel campaign in Tamil Nadu ended on Sunday evening and polling is underway to elect representatives for 234 constituencies.
The watchful eyes of poll observers and vehicle checks so far yielded a seizure of Rs.428 crore. Despite IT raids, expenditure and poll observers keeping strict vigil cash meant for bribing the voters have been seized. Rs. 91.56 lakh from the newly carved Ranipet district and Rs.1.23 crore in Thousand Lights Assembly constituency and Rs.1.15 crore in Veerapandi in Salem district were significant seizures in the last 24 hours.
TN Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo told the media on 4th April that total cash and kind seizure stands at Rs.428.46 crore. “The total cash seizure alone was Rs.225.5 crore, the rest being precious metal such as gold, besides liquor. The last 72 hours were extremely sensitive from an expenditure point of view. Keeping this in mind, we have increased the round the clock surveillance along with the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces teams has been employed. Patrolling has been strengthened during night and early morning along with expenditure teams and this resulted in significant seizure in the last 24 hours. In the state, 105 expenditure sensitive constituencies have been identified and extra efforts as mandated by Election Commission were strengthened. As many as 118 expenditure observers have been drafted to monitor expenditure by candidates and political parties”, he explained.
In a shocking incident, a DMK candidate ( Goundampalayam) Paiya Goundar has been at the receiving end for asking young female voters by kissing. DMK which has been known for making derogatory remarks on women now seems one step ahead. Earlier women cadres were not safe as incidents of caressing and picking the waist of women. On the last leg of the campaign, Paiya Goundar and he were welcomed by the locals with aarthi and flowers. The young woman in the first when asked said she would vote for the DMK candidate. Suddenly, Paiya Gounder grabbed her hand much to the shock of all and kissed it.
DMK officials attacked four policemen, including an assistant police inspector, who tried to stop DMK cadres from distributing money to voters near Vaniyambadi on 4th April. Election Flying Squads and the police were on high alert to prevent last-minute cash distribution of money or gifts to voters in each constituency. In the Ambur Assembly constituency on the DMK ticket, Vilvanathan from Tirupathi district is contesting. DMK functionaries Ravi, Perumal and Selvaraj along with party cadres went to door campaign distributing booth slips and cash and sought votes for DMK. On hearing this, the police team led by Vaniyambadi Rural Asst. Inspector Kamalakannan
rushed to the spot. The police seized Rs.52,500 from Ravi and asked the DMK functionaries to the police station.
Perumal, Selvaraj and some of his accomplices, who were distributing money on another street, rushed there and attacked the four people including ASI Kamalakannan with a rolling pin. They snatched the 52,500 that was seized by the police and fled the area. The injured were taken to the Vaniyambadi government hospital. DMK functionary Ravi was arrested on a complaint.
The police are on the lookout for fugitive eight others including Selvaraj and Perumal. Trichy West Constituency DMK candidate K N Nehru in a video that was doing rounds in social media, was heard saying it is enough if we give Rs. 200 only. He was interacting with election in-charges of Srirangam, Thuraiyur, Musiri, Trichy East and Thiruverumbur and other constituencies. He told them to speed up the distribution of money to voters. Musiri DMK nominee Thyagarajan said, “ AIADMK had given Rs500 to each voter and should all match cash distribution. That was the expectation of party workers”. To this Nehru, a former DMK minister, retorted by saying whatever they give will not go in full. But we will give 200 that is enough. We will win”. Nehru asking to give 200 rupees to voters openly has evoked condemnation from opponents. AIADMK is contemplating giving a complaint to EC as Nehru’s speech was the open direction to his party workers to give money for a vote.
On his last leg of campaigning, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the development of Tamil Nadu can happen only when the corruption and dynastic politics of DMK and Congress are put to an end. “Whatever development had happened during Modi’s rule across the nation, must come to Tamil Nadu too so that the dream of late Chief Ministers MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa could come to fruition.
Makkal Needhi Maiam leader and Coimbatore South assembly candidate Kamal Hassan is facing charges of violating the model code of conduct. While canvassing in Ram Nagar area around 7 pm on 2nd April, the campaign that followed him had women dressed in various goddess. These costume goddess sought votes for Kamal Hassan to devotees who were coming out of a Temple in the area. Independent candidate Palanikumar said “ This is against model code of conduct and People Representative act 123(3) . It was an attempt to deceive people that gods have come to earth to vote for Kamal Hassan. The stage artists tried to exploit the spiritual belief of people. It is like seeking a vote in the name of religion which is an offence. I brought it to the notice of the Election Commission to initiate criminal action including disqualifying him after removing his name from the candidates’ list. Kamal who says no religion no god has used these stage artists in gods costume to campaign for him”. His legal counsel Yogeswaran said candidates who seek votes using religious symbols are not allowable. District Election Officer and disqualify him for this PR act violation. Even if he wins, the petition can be filed in High Court to set aside his election”.