M A I N   N E W S

EC fighting a losing battle against ‘cash for votes’
Money power at play in TN poll
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Rs 5 crore seized from atop a bus

n EC flying squads recover Rs 5 crore in gunny bags from the roof of a passenger bus

Hoodwinking goes on

n Politicians using bicycles and two-wheelers for transporting cash
n Cash worth Rs 40 lakh recovered from a tea stall
n Torn pieces of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes found at a tourist hub
n Ambulances, police jeeps being used to carry money

Chennai, April 5
Flying squads formed by the Election Commission today recovered currency worth Rs 5 crore in gunny bags carried on the roof of a passenger bus. While the driver of the bus absconded, nobody came forward to claim ownership of the bags, prompting suspicion that they were part of the ‘cash for votes’ operation in Tamil Nadu, where Assembly elections are to be held on April 13. With the EC stepping up its vigil and flying squads stopping vehicles, politicians are increasingly using bicycles and two-wheelers for transporting cash to the constituencies.

The teams have recovered a lot of cash in various parts of the state over the past few days. Cash worth Rs 40 lakh was also recovered from a roadside tea stall in Therunali in Ramanathapuram district. The vendor claimed that the money was meant for distribution to voters and named the political party which had supplied the cash.

In another instance, torn pieces of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were found at the tourist hub of Kanyakumari. The value of the torn notes was said to be several crore. It is said that the money was thrown out, following fears that the election commission team was coming to Kanyakumari for inspection. Money worth several crore was also found in the house of a Municipal Councillor belonging to the Congress at the textile city of Erode.

After the EC officials started the search, politicians have started using lorries and buses besides trains, buses and bicycles to carry cash. There are allegations that ambulances and police jeeps are also being used to carry money and it is doubtful if the EC can entirely prevent the malpractice.

EC teams have also conducted searches in the houses and offices of politicians but have been successful only in a few cases. That is because most of the politicians no longer keep the cash with them but in small shops, houses of cadres and police officials. Novel ways of money distribution, including attaching them with newspapers, pamphlets, milk packets and other commodities are expected this summer.

The cash-for-votes strategy started by the AIADMK during the Kanchipuram by-polls is being used by the ruling DMK now. The AIADMK and the DMDK candidates have already started distributing money, since the EC officials are focusing only on the ruling DMK and Congress at the moment.

The EC has nearly succeeded in curbing biryani feasts this time, by stopping the movement of cattle and chicken to various places and keeping an eye on functions.





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