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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Polls on Tamil Nadu’s Vellore seat cancelled after huge cash haul

Income Tax officials last week seized the cash from a godown that allegedly belonged to DMK leader Poonjolai Srinivasan, a close aide of party treasurer Durai Murugan. The officials are investigating the source of the money.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 17, 2019 00:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vellore,Vellore Lok Sabha seat,Elections on Vellore seat cancelled
Poll officials demonstrate the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) during a training programme for the Lok Sabha elections.(PTI)

The election on Vellore Lok Sabha seat, which was slated for April 18, has been cancelled, the Election Commission said on Tuesday. The decision, formally cleared by Rashtrapati Bhavan, was taken on the recommendations of the poll body days after a huge cash haul in the constituency.

Income Tax officials last week seized the cash from a godown that allegedly belonged to DMK leader Poonjolai Srinivasan, a close aide of party treasurer Durai Murugan. The officials are investigating the source of the money.

This is not the first instance of polls being countermanded on bribery charges in Tamil Nadu in the recent past. In 2016, the commission had cancelled polling in Thanjavur and Aravakurichi assembly constituencies after AIADMK and DMK were alleged to have been bribing voters.

The by-elections in the RK Nagar seat, held by former chief minister Jayalalithaa, was cancelled in 2017 after bribery charges.

The commission told President Ramnath Kovind that it is fully satisfied that the current electoral process in Vellore parliamentary seat “has been seriously vitiated on account of unlawful activities of certain candidates and some members/workers of the political parties”. The commission also decided that conducting the poll “in such a vitiated atmosphere would severely jeopardise the conduct of free and fair election”.

According to tax officials, about Rs 11 crore cash was seized from a building linked to a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate. The cement godown from where the money was found was linked to DMK leader Poonjolai Srinivasan, a close aide of party treasurer Durai Murugan.

Durai Murugan’s son Kathir Anand is DMK’s candidate for the Vellore LS seat.

The battle was widely seen as a prestigious one for both DMK and AIADMK.

Durai Murugan’s son Kathir Anand was debuting from Vellore and the AIADMK had fielded A.C. Shanmugam, president of ally New Justice Party, to contest on the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 19:38 IST