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Home >Elections 2019 >Lok Sabha Elections 2019 >Huge cash haul prompts EC to cancel Vellore polls

BENGALURU : President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday cancelled the Lok Sabha election to Tamil Nadu’s Vellore constituency which was to be held on Thursday, following an Election Commission (EC) recommendation.

The EC had made the Vellore recommendation after the income-tax (I-T) department on 30 March seized 11.53 crore from a warehouse owned by a person close to Durai Murugan, treasurer of opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). This was the biggest cash recovery from a single location in the polls so far.

Murugan’s son Kathir Anand is fighting his first Lok Sabha election from the Vellore constituency. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has fielded A.C. Shanmugam, president of ally New Justice Party, to contest on the ‘two leaves’ symbol.

“Accepting the recommendation of the Election Commission dated 14 April 2019, President has rescinded the election to Vellore parliamentary constituency, Tamil Nadu," the Election Commission said.

This is probably the first time a Lok Sabha contest has been cancelled following a seizure of money. Tamil Nadu, which has a crucial 39 seats, votes on Thursday in a single phase.

Separately, the state office of the poll body said a staggering 135.41 crore in cash has been seized in the state since the poll announcement. This is apart from 1,022kg gold, 645kg silver, 294.38 crore worth of other precious metals, 37.42 lakh worth liquor and 37.68 lakh worth of drugs and narcotics.

In an election rally in the northern suburbs of Chennai on Sunday, M.K. Stalin, DMK head and former chief minister Karunanidhi’s son, described the raids as vendetta by the ruling AIADMK. Local party leaders echoed similar sentiments.

The warehouse was not much bigger than an average tea stall, covered with tin sheets, sandwiched between the front of a house and its gate. The place stocked only a few dozen cement sacks and locals said it had opened only six months ago. A scrawny boy manning the warehouse, however, tried to dodge questions about the raid.

The EC move came on a day that also saw I-T department officials carry out raids on the offices and home of Kanimozhi, the DMK candidate from Thoothukudi, in southern Tamil Nadu.

Kanimozhi, the daugther of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M.Karunanidhi, is making her electoral debut in the Lok Sabha elections.

I-T officials were seen carrying out searches at her home and office in Thoothukudi, a port town. Kanimozhi is contesting against TN Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Tamilisai Soundararajan.

Sharan Poovanna from Bengaluru contributed to this story.

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