Tamil Nadu saw a flurry of activity late on Tuesday with an election being cancelled and I-T raids happening at multiple locations. The last day of electioneering had already exhausted party workers and the law-enforcement by 6 pm. But, the Election Commission of India announced that the Vellore Lok Sabha polls were being cancelled in view of the cash seizures from premises associated with DMK functionaries.
The Federal had reported on Monday that the Vellore polls could be cancelled. Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer Satyabrata Sahoo had told The Federal on Monday that a report had been sent to the ECI for a decision to be made.
After this, I-T officials reached the rented residence of Thoothukudi DMK candidate Kanimozhi following a tip-off. Kanimozhi was not at the house then and the I-T officials searched the house and an adjoining election office within the same premises. But they had to return empty handed. As news spread, a crowd gathered and there was mild tension with people resorting to sloganeering against the Union government and the BJP-AIADMK alliance. DMK leader MK Stalin said the action was akin to the murder of democracy and asked why BJP candidate Tamilisai Souderrajan had not been raided in spite of the latter ‘hoarding crores of rupees.’
Soon after, poll officials landed at the AMMK office at Andipatti in Theni district. They were immediately surrounded by a mob. The mob got agitated as the poll officials told them that they were bound to check the place as per a report submitted by the collector. The police rushed to the place and tried to pacify the crowd, but to no avail. The Theni SP said the officers used mild force to disperse the crowd but the people refused to let the poll officials go. Then, the police fired four rounds in the air ‘for self defence and to rescue the officials.’
The raids are being seen as a deliberate bid to cripple the opposition by cutting the monetary channels. Notably, none of the ruling party functionaries or BJP leaders had been raided so far.
The first raid was on March 13, when the I-T officials raided a Corporation contractor and seized ₹13.8 crore of unaccounted cash. DMK leader Durai Murugan and other functionaries were raided on March 29 and reportedly seized ₹11.48 crore.
As on April 16, Tamil Nadu ranks first in terms of cash seizure with ₹204.77 crore having been confiscated. The total cash seizure, so far, in the country has been ₹683 crore.