(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
TAMILNADU ELECTIONS 2011
DMK-Congress Combine Heading for Defeat
S P Rajendran
THE campaign for the April 13 assembly elections started in Tamilnadu on March 24, with a massive programme attended by AIADMK general secretary Ms J Jayalalithaa, DMDK leader Vijayakant and the leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI. And now the fear of their worst ever defeat is haunting the DMK-Congress alliance headed by the infamous chief minister, M Karunanidhi.
The things that are haunting them most are the unprecedented price rises, 2G spectrum scam, massive power cuts in the state, rising unemployment, increased migration, illegal large-scale sand mining, massive failure in agricultural and industrial development etc, to name only a few.
Now, a frustrated DMK supremo and his partymen are vehemently accusing that the Election Commission of India is working against them. The reality is that the ECI is only implementing the code of conduct and acting against those bribing the voters.
Karunanidhi has accused the Election Commission of imposing excessive restrictions and unilaterally transferring officials. The EC was acting in an “unprecedented manner,” he said in a statement.
As for the commission taking preventive actions to stop voter bribing, chief electoral officer Praveenkumar said, “It is a cat-and-mouse game. They come up with new methods and we try to plug them.” He asked more information from the public about politicians paying cash for votes. Already 40,000 cases have been filed for violation of the model code of conduct, he added.
By March 20, according to Praveenkumar, the authorities had taken action on 105 cases pertaining to bribery and seized around Rs 9 crore in cash.
A newspaper report says that by the said date the total value of the seized money and things like sarees, dhoties, wrist watches, cell phones, silver home appliances etc, was around Rs 17 crore.
In Tiruchi, a few days ago, revenue officials and income tax officials went to the house of a DMK office bearer following a tip-off and wanted to conduct a search. But they were stopped by the DMK cadre who are close to the transport minister K N Nehru. They even threatened the officials against entering the house and ‘advised’ them to beat a retreat. Only after holding talks for two hours with the DMK strongman could the officials enter the house.
At Madurai, a committee monitoring the model code of conduct investigated an allegation that voters were being given cash at DMK MLA P Moorthy’s residence. It may be recalled that Moorthy had tried to relay a road in Kulamangalam area on March 21. As the people gheraoed him and started airing their grievances, this came to a halt and the earth mover was impounded by the people, citing it as a poll violation. Irked by this, Moorthy instructed his party functionaries in the area to woo the voters from there to come to his house.
The opposition, which was keenly watching the development, passed the message to the collector who then sent a squad. Meanwhile, Moorthy have threatened the officials by stating that in another 19 days he would show them who he was. The officials could not continue their search of Moorthy’s residence as some DMK men had started intimidating the officials.
On March 29, the Election Commission informed the Madras High Court that there were complaints about money being distributed in police vehicles and by some police personnel.
Senior counsel G Rajagopalan, appearing for the EC, informed this during the course of his arguments on the petition filed by state fisheries minister and DMK candidate K P P Samy.
In its submission, the EC also listed the places where money was drawn, taken to and in the houses it was kept. In all, 2,900 cases were registered and the EC was taking action against the police officers who distributed money. Some names were shocking, Rajagopalan added. He also said some police officers had leaked out information before a search was conducted.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice T S Sivagnanam reserved orders after hearing both the sides.
When the filing of nominations for the April 13 polls to Tamilnadu assembly ended on March 19, one found that an unprecedented number of rebels had entered the fray. A deeply faction-ridden Congress, that has fielded 63 candidates this year, has won the dubious distinction of having the biggest number of rebel candidates. Several Congress nominees, including TNCC president who is contesting from Mylapore, are facing the rebellion from partymen. A local functionary, Sivakami, has filed her papers as an independent against the TNCC president.
Peeved over the denial of ticket, sitting MLA Rani Venkatesan has filed her papers to contest from Sri Vaikundam. Youth Congress state president M Yuva Raja, three-time MLA C Gnana Sekaran of Vellore, Krishnagiri candidate Haseena Syed and Hasan Ali of Ramanathapuram are among those facing the wrath of local partymen.
The situation is such that the INTUC too had to raise the banner of revolt against the state Congress leadership. Its state unit has decided to keep off from poll related work as its members have not been offered seats, said its general secretary K S Kovindarajan on March 27.
There has been utter chaos in Krishnagiri after Maqbool Jaan, named to replace Haseena Syed as the Congress candidate from the constituency, failed to file his nomination in time. The move was allegedly orchestrated by TNCC chief K V Thangkabalu to ensure that the original candidate contests the seat. Ms Syed, a novice, is a confidante of Thangkabalu and presents a programme on his Mega TV channel, while Jaan is a close aide of the TNCC president. Outraged Congress functionaries in Krishnagiri district accused Thangkabalu of taking decisions according to his whims and sidelining the veteran party leaders in the constituency.
Thangkabalu has indeed put the Congress in a deep mess and the party is facing problems after the distribution of tickets. While Thangkabalu’s wife, Jayanthi, had her nomination papers for Mylapore constituency in Chennai rejected for inadequate documentation, his protege (Ms Haseena Syed) was forced to withdraw from Krishnagiri under mysterious circumstances.
Curiously, in both these cases, the spouses ended up as the official candidates as they had filed papers as dummy candidates, thereby further infuriating the rival Congress factions who are openly protesting against Thangkabalu, and burnt his effigies outside the party headquarters at Satyamurthy Bhavan and in the roads of Chennai.
THREAT OF VIOLENCE
FROM DMK MEN
DMK MP and film actor Ritheesh was recently arrested and remanded to judicial custody following an attack on dalit people of Pichangurichi that falls under Thiruvadanai constituency. Here, DMK minister Suba Thangavelen is contesting. The people, who have been demanding road facilities for the last five years, opposed the candidate and raised objections for his make-ups to woo the voters. As the news spread, Ritheesh rushed to the village along with his supporters and unleashed an attack against the villagers. The people began an agitation to demand his arrest. The police then intercepted his car and arrested him.
Mounting a scathing attack on the chief minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi for failing on several fronts, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa charged the DMK with planning to unleash violence during the assembly elections to stay in power. Jayalalithaa said so while addressing an election rally in Tiruvarur on March 29. She alleged that, unable to stomach the overwhelming response to the AIADMK alliance, Mr Karunanidhi was planning to feign illness or stage-manage an attack on his daughter and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi in order to get the voters’ sympathy. If he fails to get it, he would unleash violence, she said.
With DMK strongman and union minister M K Alagiri accusing the Madurai collector and district election officer U Sahayam of favouring the AIADMK, DMK men burnt the officer’s effigy and created a ruckus in Melur. An all-party meeting chaired by the collector ended in a scuffle with men from the DMK and AIADMK attacking each other in the presence of officials.
The Madurai Rural Police has registered cases against some of the key DMK functionaries under charges of abusing and obstructing officials from discharging their duties. Following a tip-off that a private vehicle accompanying the Alagiri was carrying cash, the police intercepted the car. According to the police, when the DMK leaders were returning to the city via the Madurai-Tirumangalam national highway late on March 29 night, a flying squad comprising police and revenue officials stopped the vehicle near the Seethalaksmi Mills checkpost. After a check, the vehicle was let off. However, the DMK members claimed that the vehicle was already subjected to a check some 15 minutes ago and they were wondering why the authorities had stopped them again.
As the news spread that the police had insisted on a check again, DMK men from the nearby locality rushed to the spot. Commotion prevailed for some time, when some of the party functionaries shouted against the police personnel and threatened to stage a roadblock. After some time, DMK men dispersed after they were informed that the flying squad had only performed its duty as per the instructions of the Election Commission. The police registered cases under IPC Sections 143, 188, 294 B and 353, among others, against Virudhunagar MP Manickam Tagore and DMK functionaries P M Mannan, N Suresh Babu and Misa M Pandian. A senior police officer said that the vehicle, which was subjected to check, was following Alagiri’s vehicle which had just crossed the checkpost with a pilot vehicle leading the minister’s car. Further investigation is on.