Indian poll panel cancels Vellore election after $1.6m cash seized

In a rare move, the President of India approved the Election Commission’s (EC) recommendation to cancel poll in Vellore over suspected bribing of voters.

Vellore in Tamil Nadu may be the first-ever constituency to have a parliamentary election countermanded over bribery charges`.

The EC action comes after the seizure of illegal cash amounting to $1.65 million in income-tax raids on April 1 from a warehouse belonging to a close aide of Durai Murugan, treasurer of the local Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party.

Durai Murugan’s son Kathir Anand is contesting from Vellore and the packets of illegal cash found in gunny bags and cartons bore different code numbers probably representing different wards where the bribe money was expected to be delivered.

The election for Vellore parliamentary seat was to take place on April 18.

IT officials are investigating the source of the money seized.

DMK condemned the cancellation of Vellore election and income-tax raids. A party spokesman told media that Bharatiya Janata Party is using federal agencies to play vendetta politics against their leaders.

The party questioned the “selective” income-tax raids. It wanted to know why such raids were not targeting leaders of AIADMK, a rival Dravidian party ruling the state.  

Income-tax officials raided the home of DMK leader Kanimozhi in Thoothukudi late on Tuesday.

Kanimozhi is contesting the election from Thoothukudi constituency. She is sister of DMK chief MK Stalin.

Income-tax raids across India have so far led to the seizure of illegal cash, drugs, liquor and precious metals worth $366 million. Of this, $71 million was seized from Tamil Nadu alone.

In the past, Tamil Nadu had witnessed cancellation of assembly polls over cash-for-vote allegations in Thanjavur and Aravakurichi constituencies.

In 2017, the Election Commission cancelled the by-election in the RK Nagar seat over bribery charges two days after income-tax officials raided Tamil Nadu health minister Vijayabaskar’s home and seized related documents.