Monday, April 11, 2011
Former Telecom Minister A. Raja’s brother has been arrested on charges of “bribing” voters in Perumbalur district in the run up to the April 13 Tamil Nadu assembly polls, police said on Monday.
A. Kaliaperumal was allegedly caught “red-handed” on Sunday night while distributing money at Labbakudi Kadu and Irayur, the second time he has been involved in such an incident in as many days. He was produced before a court which released him on bail, they said.
Mr. Kaliaperumal, a businessman, has been slapped with cases under various sections of IPC, including bribery and violation of Representation of People’s Act. Police said they also seized some calendars and diaries from his possession.
On April 9, police had taken Mr. Kaliaperumal into custody for allegedly distributing money to Self Helf Women Groups and a case was registered against him following strong protests from opposition parties as well as locals and intervention by Election Commission.
He was later let off by police.
The Enforcement Directorate and the CBI had questioned Mr. Kaliaperumal in February in connection with the 2G Spectrum scam, in which Mr. Raja has been arrested.
The investigating agencies are probing if his firms had acted as fronts for the former telecom minister.
Rejecting the argument that the 2011 Assembly election was a “do-or-die” battle for her and her party, AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on Sunday said, “It could be a do-or-die battle for the people of Tamil Nadu.” “If Tamil Nadu has to survive, the DMK has to be defeated,” she told reporters after campaigning for candidates of the party and alliance partners in the city and suburbs.
Asked about allegations that she was corrupt, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “I am not corrupt.” “It is a big subject and I am tired,” she said, adding that the DMK government had foisted cases on her and she had been acquitted in 12 cases by various courts and proved innocent.
“There is only one case I am fighting. All these cases were foisted out of political vendetta. On the other hand, can there be one case comparable to the 2G spectrum scam and the Commonwealth Games scam?” she asked.
Ms. Jayalalithaa also rejected Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's argument that Tamil Nadu's economy was in a sound state.
“I am afraid he needs to do his homework properly when it concerns Tamil Nadu,” she said, alleging that there was all-pervasive corruption and that the economy, industry and agriculture were in a shambles. Asked whether she would initiate corruption cases against the DMK people if elected to power, she said, “Let us win the election first. The next step is to form the government. We will then collect and study the details to take action against those who are found guilty.”
Ms. Jayalalithaa said M. Karunanidhi could be interested in becoming Chief Minister for the sixth time, but the people of Tamil Nadu were certainly not for it.
Earlier, while campaigning, she accused Mr. Karunanidhi of distributing money to voters because he had realised that his party would be defeated.
“In many parts of Tamil Nadu, it is raining money. Mr. Karunanidhi is trying to create an impression that he could win the election by bribing the people,” she said and called upon her partymen and alliance partners not to be worried by cash distribution. Besides promising to organise tripartite talks to bring down the fee structure in the schools in Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa also promised a world-class IT corridor.
Tamil Nadu is headed for a new-look political scenario, said national secretary of BJP Ananth Kumar while speaking to presspersons here on Sunday. Describing the DMK as a sinking ship, he said that it has lost its image.
Pointing out that the people no longer have trust in Chief Minister Karunanidhi and Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, he said that the former will ‘wither away.'
A new alignment of political forces is on the cards in Tamil Nadu. When asked for his views on the current political scenario in Tamil Nadu, he observed that the situation is, ‘fluid.' Stating that the BJP had a strong presence in about nine States, he said that the next big step of the party will be in Tamil Nadu.
To another query, Mr. Kumar said that the success achieved by Gandhian Anna Hazare was a victory for the people of India. The BJP will extend its support to the Lok Pal Bill.
Earlier, campaigning for B. Kumaran, party candidate in the Udhagamandalam constituency, he said that an end should be put to the ‘corrupt family rule' in Tamil Nadu.
AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa is in no way better. Referring to local issues, he said that the BJP will strive to include the Badagas in the list of STs. No one deserves such a status more than the Badagas.
Describing himself as a ‘son of the soil' in the Tiruvarur constituency, DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Sunday said contesting in his hometown was a unique source of happiness for him.
“I have contested from places such as Thanjavur, Kulithalai and many times in Chennai in the past. But contesting from Tiruvarur is dear to my heart as it is my ‘thaiveedu' [maternal home],” he said, addressing people at various places in the Tiruvarur Assembly constituency on the last leg of his election tour. Campaign ends on Monday.
Mr. Karunanidhi, who arrived at his relative's house on Sannidhi Street opposite the Sri Thyagarajaswamy Temple by noon from Chidambaram, started his campaign in the evening and went down memory lane.
His first stop was the Tiruvarur bus stand. Addressing voters, he said the DMK government's achievements were appreciated by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also appreciated the good work done by DMK regime in the State. “If the good work has to continue, you should vote for the DMK,” Mr.Karunanidhi said.
“Tiruvarur has changed a lot since my childhood. The Tiruvarur I saw did not have beautiful buildings like now. There are many educational institutions now. The face of Tiruvarur town has been changed by the DMK government,” he said.
At Kidaran Kondan, he recalled the steps taken by him to start a government college. “It is now functioning in the name of Tamil scholar Thiru.Vi.Ka.”
In the Kilvelur constituency in Nagapattinam district from where Dairy Development Minister U. Mathivanan is contesting, the Chief Minister said steps would be taken to create a new lake on 25 acres of land in Etturkudi for irrigation, if DMK was voted to power. Under the Kalaignar Housing Scheme, 1.40 lakh houses have been constructed so far, he said. “I have visited Ettukudi in my childhood days. The place has a Muruga temple. People used to bear ‘kavadi' to Lord Muruga. They used to chant “Muruganukku Vel Vel.” It is still ringing in my years. While it is Murugan at Ettukudi, it is Lord Singaravelan in Sikkal,” he said.
Mr. Karunanidhi campaigned at Semanglaam, Alivalam, Pulivalam, Thierunellikaval, Lakshmangudi and Mavur and was accorded a warm reception.
He will continue his campaign on Monday and address a public meeting on the banks of Kamalalayam at 4 p.m. His daughter Selvi accompanied him during his campaign.
ON CONGRESS-DMK TIES
Staff Reporter writes from Mayiladuthurai:
The relationship between the DMK and the Congress has grown from strength to strength, infusing respect and life into the alliance, Mr. Karunanidhi said on the campaign trail from Chidambaram to Tiruvarur on Sunday.
The alliance had stood the test of time, with the Congress-led Centre as the “pillar of strength” for all schemes the DMK-led State government implemented in the past five years.
It has been a relationship founded on mutuality, Mr. Karunanidhi said, while campaigning for the sitting Congress MLA in Mayiladuthurai. According to the DMK chief, such has been the “convergence of ideas” between the partners that it led to the fulfilment of the State's necessities.
Therefore, both the governments at the Centre and in the State should continue, he said. The DMK chief's campaign trail passed through Sirkazhi and Mangainallur in Poompuhar.
A meeting was convened with micro-observers here on Sunday to apprise them on rules to be followed during poll proceedings at sensitive booths.
As per the Election Commission's diktat, they were apprised of their role and responsibilities to ensure peaceful conduct of polls. After identifying the micro- level vulnerability area by police personnel, 452 polling booths at 350 places across the district have been identified as sensitive. One micro-observer would man each location.
The electoral authorities would maintain strict vigil to thwart any attempts of infiltration by unidentified persons into polling stations. Adequate security force personnel would be deployed at sensitive locations. The micro-observers should check whether polling began exactly at 8 a.m. and continued until 5 p.m. on April 13. They should also verify whether a mock poll was carried out prior to the commencement of polling.
If unlawful activities occurred during polling, the micro-observers should make a report which would be submitted to Election Observers. Web cameras would be fitted at sensitive booths and the entire process of polling would be videographed, sources from Election Cell said.
A team of officials, including Election Observers (General), Election Observers (Expenditure), Collector and District Election Officer C.N. Maheswaran, District Revenue Officer D. Ravichandran, Sub Collector and Returning Officer to Tuticorin Assembly Constituency Sajjan Singh R. Chawan issued these guidelines.
A special camp for distributing voter slips to electors began at various polling stations across the district on Sunday.
Since it is a key credential for casting votes, many electors approached polling stations of their constituencies and received it. The electors could also exercise their franchise with Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC). If any elector had missed or lost his or her EPIC, they can make use of the voter slip to cast vote.
Booth Level Officers were engaged in distributing the voter slips which would have all details of an elector similar to the EPIC, including photograph. In Tuticorin district, officials had been issuing the voter slips since April 3, N. Samuel, Tahsildar (Election), said. Till Saturday, 82 per cent of distribution was over. The district had 11,00,380 voters and 8,97,556 voter slips had been issued — Vilathikulam constituency: 1,43,493; Srivaikuntam – 1,61,642; Ottapidaram – 1,50,200; Tuticorin – 1,38,000; Tiruchendur 1,74,309; and Kovilpatti 1,29,912.