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Probe needed into Election Commission affairs relating to AIADMK

Updated by admin on Friday, April 17, 2020 08:40 PM IST

Chennai: Strictures were passed by the Madras High Court on March 22, 2019, against senior officials of the Election Commission that they had “played a fraud in connivance with the ruling party (AIADMK) by accepting AIADMK leader and then chief minister J jayalalithaa’s thumb impression on Thiruparakundram candidate A K Bose’s nomination papers. The HC order, setting aside the election of AIADMK candidate Bose (since deceased) in the November 2016 bypoll when Jayalalithaa was in a private hospital. A thorough probe needs to be ordered into the acts of the Election Commission both at the Centre and in the State regarding not just the nominations for the November 2016 by-elections but the manner in which the symbol was frozen and then allotted.

In his court order, Justice P. Velmurugan named two officials, the then Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Rajesh Lakhoni and Principal Secretary to the EC K.F. Wilfred, while allowing the petition filed by DMK candidate P. Saravanan. of the DMK. After his victory, Bose died on August 2, 2018. However, the high court did not declare Saravanan as the winner.

The court ruled that the EC should not have accepted Jayalalithaa’s thumb impressions on Forms A (for getting party symbol) and B (declaration of official candidate of a party) submitted by Bose as the rules permit only signatures in ink.

The judgement raises serious questions about the functioning of the EC, especially whether it was neutral and fair in deciding matters relating to the nomination affair.
It also exposes the goings-on in the AIADMK government and the ruling party while handling the nomination for the by-elections.

In fact, new light may emerge on the other two by-elections in Thanjavur and Aravakurichi as well since the same modus operandi was used by the AIADMK in the November 19, 2016 by-elections. Similar thumb impressions were obtained for the nomination process of the AIADMK candidates in those by-polls too.

The question is whether a probe will be launched into these two by-elections as well.

While the death of Jayalalithaa in the hospital is being probed, mystery shrouds the activities of the AIADMK even when Jayalalithaa was alive and undergoing treatment.

The court has also raised doubts whether the thumb impressions were genuine but the judgement has been carried out whether waiting for a probe into the impressions and whether they were the same as recorded in the Bengaluru prison where Jayalalithaa was an inmate after conviction by a special court in the disproportionate assets case.

The activities of the EC have been strange ever since the issue of the party’s Two Leaves symbol came before the EC after a division in the party. At that time, when Sasikala was elected as the general secretary, the party had the backing of more MLAs and  office-bearers than later in the period after the merger of OPS group with the ruling EPS group. Yet, the symbol was denied to  the former. The subsequent claim after the merger was upheld though they had fewer MLAs with them.
Further, the RK Nagar by-election also saw several strange decisions. Though the EC postponed the byelection after a raid of several places in Chennai including the residence of Health minister Vijayabhaskar when the EC said documents relating to distribution of Rs 89 crore in cash to influence the election were seized. Yet, there has been no action on the matter though the EC said the state government should file a case and prosecute the guilty.

The RK Nagar bypoll was later announced a day after the EC gave the order allotting the symbol to the OPS-EPS group. This too raised eyebrows as the bypoll was delayed for several months.

Raids were conducted in over 130 places across the country in order to find black money of the Sasikala group’s associates.

Yet, TTV Dinakaran of the Sasikala group, won the by-election, defeating the combine of the ruling parties at the Centre and in the State.

The EC has not covered itself with glory in the last two years, with several strange and contradictory positions being taken. It announced bypoll for Tiruvarur seat but put it off after receiving a letter from the state government that flood relief works were still going on.

Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. Likewise, the EC will also do well if it acts in a manner that is above suspicion. Is it too much to accept in a land that claims to follow democracy?

By R. Rangaraj
 

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