Chennai's RK Nagar Cancelled By Election Commission

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By-elections in Chennai's RK Nagar constituency - to be held on Wednesday - have been cancelled by the Election Commission a day after cash-for-votes allegations surfaced.

The decision came after Income Tax raids in Chennai found money was distributed to voters. The by-elections in RK Nagar became necessary after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who represented it for two terms. Stakes for the by-polls were very high as the results would have been a verdict of sorts in the war between the two rival factions of the ruling AIADMK.

The Income Tax officials had alleged that the VK Sasikala faction of the party paid Rs. 89 crore to voters to buy support for its candidate TTV Dinakaran, who is also her nephew. As evidence, the department had cited documents seized during raids on Friday in more than 35 places -- including properties of the state health minister C Vijayabaskar.

One key document recovered from the minister's house gave the alleged blueprint of the strategy to buy voters. The constituency is divided into 256 segments and the target was to reach out 85 per cent of the 2.6 lakh voters. Each voter was supposed to be paid Rs. 4,000, INDICATING an outlay of Rs. 89 crore.

Seven senior leaders -- including Chief Minister E Palaniswami, Forest Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan and Finance Minister Jayakumar - were given targets, the documents indicated. The Chief Minister was allegedly tasked with distributing Rs. 13.27 crore to 33,000 voters.

The Sasikala faction has denied the allegations.

Last year, polling in two constituencies - Thanjavur And Aravakurichi - were cancelled after both AIADMK and DMK were found bribing voters.

The faction of AIADMK led by the former Chief Minister's longtime aide VK Sasikala faction is locked in battle for the prestigious constituency with the faction led by Jayalalithaa-loyalist O Panneerselvam.

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