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TOI EDIT-Votes For Sale Check the rampant bribery of voters going on in Tamil Nadu

April 18, 2019 06:59 AM


Votes For Sale
Check the rampant bribery of voters going on in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu, which has been a trendsetter in healthcare and education, has also set new standards in voter bribing. On Tuesday the Election Commission countermanded Lok Sabha polls in TN’s Vellore constituency – where DMK treasurer S Duraimurugan’s son Kathir Anand is a candidate – after EC and I-T officials seized Rs 10.48 crore from a cement warehouse belonging to a DMK functionary. Officials found Rs 200 notes drawn from a Canara Bank’s Vellore branch, sorted into bundles, with labels of wards and booths. The lead came after an earlier search at Duraimurugan’s house that yielded Rs 10.53 lakh unaccounted cash.

In another search that went on till early yesterday officials found Rs 1.48 crore from the election office of the TTV Dhinakaran-led AMMK party in Andipatti assembly constituency (once represented by J Jayalalithaa) where a byelection is scheduled. Here, cash was kept in envelopes, Rs 300 in each, with details of polling booths. So far, EC and I-T officials in Tamil Nadu have seized Rs 138.57 crore in cash, besides gold and silver worth Rs 294.38 crore.

Tamil Nadu has a dark history of organised cash-for-vote operations, starting with the Sathankulam byelection in 2003. If AIADMK was accused of voter bribing then, DMK mastered the art in the 2009 bypoll in Thirumangalam. With innovative ways in delivering cash (slipped between pages of the morning newspaper and buried in PDS rice) and ensuring recipient loyalty (women were asked to swear on their mangalsutra that they would vote for the party), it came to be called the ‘Thirumangalam formula’. The 2017 RK Nagar byelection following Jayalalithaa’s death wasn’t different. EC countermanded the RK Nagar election in April, but when polls happened again in December after the AIADMK split, Rs 20 notes with marked serial numbers were distributed as ‘coupons’ which could be shown after the poll to collect the rest of the money. Dhinakaran won the election.

Politicians bribing voters is a matter of concern; more alarming is the sense of entitlement among voters who say they are but getting back their money from the corrupt. Solution? Countermanding polls only causes discomfort to the corrupt – as well as others – but it doesn’t deter them. Disqualify the candidate of the party caught giving bribes. Also debar the voter caught taking them. The bans should be in force for a specific period. Fear of loss should be the antidote for illegal gain.


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