Known as the DMK’s anjatha nenjum (the most brave heart), Union minister MK Alagiri is billed as the party’s best bet when it comes to wooing voters in “unconventional ways”.
But this time Alagiri is “feeling” the heat, say insiders, and they are blaming the EC.
“What’s coming in the way of our leader’s efforts is the EC, which is creating hurdles in our campaign,” said a DMK official.
Apart from the promised freebies in the manifestos, Alagiri is known for his “large” heart when it comes to making the voters feel “good”. In fact, his “tough and bold methods” were credited for the DMK-led front’s haul of Lok Sabha seats from southern parts of Tamil Nadu in 2009.
This time too Alagiri — who is aiming for a higher return of seats — went on an overdrive soon after he and Dayanidhi Maran played a key role in sealing the DMK-Congress poll pact in a bid to win maximum number of the 110 seats in the region.
The EC officials, however, deny any party or leader is their target.
Acting on chief election commissioner SY Querishi’s directive, the EC is on a drive to unearth money being used by DMK or ADMK to lure voters.
Tamil Nadu tops the list of four poll-bound states where the EC has, through its various teams and Income Tax Department, seized R28.39 crore in cash and in kind.
In West Bengal, the amount is R4.98 crore in cash and in Assam R3.96 crore. In most cases, the money is left unattended in tea shops or roof tops of buses. The EC’s counsel had told Madras High Court a few days ago that money is being transported in police jeeps.
In the biggest haul of unaccounted cash so far, IT officials on Tuesday seized R5.11 crore from a private bus in Tiruchirappalli. The cash was kept in travel bags on the roof, says chief electoral officer Praveen Kumar, and nobody came to claim it.
A few days ago, Alagiri, who is headquartered in Madurai, got into a major row with district collector U Sahayam who has been telling voters to resist offer of money to buy votes. Alagiri criticized Sahayam for reportedly saying it was natural for people to look for a change during elections. Later, Alagiri’s men got a complaint sent to the EC against Sahayam by his deputy, Madurai East Assembly constituency Returning Officer S Suhumuaran.
The EC, however, ordered Suhumaran’s suspension, dealing a blow to Alagiri’s men’s plans to get the district collector shifted out of Madurai.