Andipatti, Tamil Nadu:
Unaccounted cash worth Rs 1.48 crore, allegedly meant to bribe voters, was seized by taxmen during raids on a party colleague of TTV Dhinakaran, the politician who broke away from Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK last year. The raids were carried out overnight on a leader of Mr Dhinakaran’s AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam) in Andipatti, where assembly by-elections will be held tomorrow along with the national election.
Income Tax officials told NDTV that 94 packets of cash, with ward numbers and number of voters, were found. Markings on the packets indicate the plan was to give each voter Rs 300 as bribe.
The raids took place hours after the Election Commission cancelled voting in Vellore, one of the 39 constituencies where elections are to be held tomorrow, over a massive amount of cash seized from the warehouse of a DMK candidate.
AMMK party workers allegedly tried to fight the income tax and Election Commission teams. Initially, a group of workers overpowered the flying squad and tried to grab the cash packets. The police fired in the air to control the mob, said officials. No one was injured in the firing.
When the poll panel’s flying squad team arrived at a store in Andipatti, the shopkeeper, believed to be a supporter of AMMK, tried to shut the store and run away. Four AMMK supporters have been detained, say police sources.
The overnight raids ended at 5.30 this morning. “All these wards are within the Andipatti assembly segment,” said senior Income Tax officer B Murali Kumar, in charge of the investigation. Mr Kumar said the premises belonged to a functionary of the AMMK party. A report on the operation will be sent to the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Election Commission in New Delhi, said the official.
This is the latest in Tamil Nadu’s spree of mega cash hauls.
Earlier this month, Rs 11.5 crore in cash was allegedly seized from a warehouse belonging to a DMK candidate in Vellore. This led to voting being cancelled for the first time in a Lok Sabha constituency over the alleged use of cash for bribing voters. AC Shanmugam, AIADMK ally and Vellore candidate is set to move the Madras High Court, challenging the cancellation of election.
So far, over Rs. 500 crore have been seized from Tamil Nadu, Rs. 205 crore in cash and the rest in gold.
In 2017, the Election Commission had postponed the by-election for the RK Nagar Assembly constituency after complaints of large-scale bribing of voters. Mr Dhinakaran won later from the constituency, where bypolls were held because of the death of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa.
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