The election commission has decided to cancel the by-election to the R K Nagar constituency, which is scheduled on April 12. This comes two days after the income tax department has raided the Tamil Nadu health minister Vijayabaskar and reportedly seized evidence of bribing voters.
“The by-election to fill the vacancy in RK Nagar shall be held by the commission in due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to lure the electors gets removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election," said a 29-page statement signed by chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi and his two associates and election commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat.
I-T officials told the media representatives that the raids had helped to uncover a major plot to bribe voters. The documents unearthed showed that close to Rs 90 crore was distributed to voters in R K Nagar constituency by the AIADMK Amma party which has fielded T T V Dhinakaran.
"Before parting with the case, the commission cannot help expressing its anguish over the sordid state of affairs as revealed in the reports of the election expenditure observers, election expenditure monitoring teams, static surveillance teams, flying squad teams, video surveillance teams, as well as the reports of the income tax authorities," the statement said.
"Some of the states have particularly excelled in innovating more and more subtle ways to circumvent the statutory provisions enacted by parliament to curb the menace of money power in elections," said the commission.
"If not their express consent, their tacit approval to resort to such undesirable activities on the part of their candidates and electoral managers cannot be wished away. It is high time they exerted their moral influence and legal authority to rein in their erring candidates and electoral managers without loss of time if democracy is to flourish and deepen its roots in our country," it said.
The commission has directed under Article 324 of the Constitution read with sections 150, 30 and 56 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and further read with Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and all other powers enabling it in this behalf, that its notification dated March 16 announcing the by-election stands rescinded forthwith.
Consequently, all actions and steps taken by the returning officer have been declared null and void, said the EC.