Election Commission called meeting on Sunday to discuss scrapping a high-profile assembly bypoll in Chennai’s RK Nagar after tax authorities discovered a large-scale bribery scandal to swing an election that might determine the ruling party’s future. A decision is expected latest by Monday.
Documents seized by the income tax department during raids on state health minister Vijaya Bhaskar’s house on Friday purportedly show the Sasikala faction of the AIADMK gave Rs 4,000 to every voter in the north Chennai locality that was the home constituency of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The DMK’s working president, MK Stalin, has a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the list of ministers mentioned in the documents. “The ministers should be debarred from contesting in elections,” Stalin said.
This is not the first time that bribery has led to elections being postponed: During the 2016 assembly elections, the poll panel cancelled elections in Thanjavur and Aravakuruchi assembly seats, citing large-scale bribing of voters.
The bypoll is being seen as a battle of supremacy between the two warring AIADMK factions that want to establish their control over the party, and crucially, lay claim to the iconic but now frozen two-leaves symbol of the party. Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran is her faction’s candidate.