Thursday, April 14, 2011

Outgoing Tamil Nadu legislator's election quashed on voting day


New Delhi/Chennai: The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the election of P Veldurai, a Congress member of the outgoing Tamil Nadu Assembly, on the day he was contesting the polls for a new house in the state.

An apex court bench of Justice JM Panchal and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra said Veldurai incurred disqualification under the Representation of the People Act on the grounds that on the day of filing his nomination papers in 2006 he had contracts with the state government. Thus, his election was "declared illegal".

Reacting to the verdict, Veldurai, the Congress candidate from Radhapuram in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district in Wednesday's voting, said: "I don't know why I lost the case."

 He said the decision will not impact his chances of getting elected again as the people are in favour of the DMK-led front.

Speaking for the bench Justice Panchal said that the election of Veldurai from Cheranmahadevi constituency is held "null and void".

Velduria's election to the Assembly from Cheranmadevi constituency, 570 km from here, was annulled as he had contracts with the Tamil Nadu government at the time of filing his nomination in 2006, AIADMK Rajya Sabha member and the complainant in the case PH Manoj Pandian said.

Veldurai filed nomination papers for election from Cheranmahadevi Assembly constituency that was held May 8, 2006.

On May 11, 2006, Veldurai was declared elected.

In 2006, Veldurai along with Pandian filed nomination papers from Cheranmahadevi assembly constituency.

In the course of scrutiny of the papers April 21, 2006, Pandian sought the rejection of Veldurai's nomination papers on the grounds that he had a contract with the state government.

Veldurai contended that he had already terminated the contract and was eligible for contesting the election.

Setting aside a Madras High Court verdict, the apex court said: "On the date of submission of nomination papers by respondent (Veldurai) as well as on the date of scrutiny of the nomination papers the contracts entered into by respondent (Veldurai) with the government were subsisting and, therefore, the respondent was disqualified from filing the nomination papers and contesting election."

Polling in TN peaceful, EVMs shifted to counting centres: DGP


Chennai: Barring stray incidents, polling for all 234 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu today passed off peacefully and EVMs have been shifted to counting centres, a top police official said here on Wednesday.
  
"No political clashes or violence were reported from any part of the state," DGP Bholo Nath told reporters here.

Police had to use mild force at Salem to disperse some agitators, he said, adding that the state police and central paramilitary forces worked jointly to do a "good job".

At the end of polling EVMS were shifted safely to the 91 counting centres and kept in tight security, he said.

Of the 240 companies of central forces, 17 will be retained and the rest return. The retained personnel will be deputed for security at counting centres, he added.

75-80% record polling in Tamil Nadu Assembly election

BATTLE OF GIANTS: DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi casts his vote at the Sarada Secondary School, Gopalapuram, in Chennai on Wednesday. His arch rival and AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa shows the ink mark on her finger after voting at Stella Maris college in the city. Photos: S. Raghunathan and M. Vedhan

In what could be a record turnout, an estimated 75-80 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections on Wednesday. The voting percentage could break the all-time high of 76.57 recorded in 1967.
In the Union Territory of Puducherry, over 85 per cent cast their vote.
In Tamil Nadu, polling was largely peaceful. Braving the scorching sun, voters started thronging the polling stations as soon as voting began.
Emphasising that the voting figures were provisional and based on projections, Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar told a press conference here that Karur district recorded 86 per cent.
Among other districts, it was 64 per cent in Kanyakumari; Chennai 66; Tuticorin 74, Coimbatore 75; Madurai 77 and Villupuram, Salem and Dharmapuri 81 per cent each.
Among the high-profile constituencies, Tiruvarur, where Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi is contesting, witnessed 75 per cent polling; in Srirangam, where All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa is one of the candidates, the turnout was 73 per cent. In Rishivandiyam, where Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder Vijayakant is in the fray, 82 per cent of the electors cast their vote.
Mr. Praveen Kumar said the final figures would be known only after scrutiny of documents by observers. In some places, the voting was still on as late as 7.30 p.m. Information from remote areas had not yet fully been obtained.
The CEO said repolling would be held on Friday in some booths in a few constituencies. In one booth each in the Arni and Killiyoor constituencies, there were discrepancies between the number of voters in the relevant registers and votes polled by electronic voting machines. At 7.10 p.m., violence broke out outside a couple of booths in the Neyveli constituency in Cuddalore district. In the process, an EVM was broken.
In a booth coming under Salem West, a 60-year-old man was killed on the spot in police lathi charge. In Pattukottai, a car of an independent was attacked.
At Minnathur near Vallam in Thanjavur district, an AIADMK supporter was hacked to death by two youths following an altercation near a booth.
A total of 1,260 voters attached to a couple of booths at Paruthikudi in the Thiruvidaimarudur constituency boycotted the poll stating the booths were far away from their localities. Though the Thanjavur district administration had made arrangements to operate two special buses, the voters stuck to their decision.
Asked about the high turnout, the CEO said the Election Commission's efforts, political mobilisation and the role of voters contributed to it.
A visit to several booths in Chennai and Kancheepuram districts revealed that distribution of voter slips had generated greater interest among voters in the polling process.
Also, the electoral rolls were more accurate, with names of the dead and those who had moved out scrupulously removed.

Many first-timers cast their vote

Voters stand in a long queue as they wait to exercise their franchise at Needamangalam in Tiruvarur District. Photo: M. Srinath
Many first time voters exercised their franchise in the Assembly elections held on Wednesday in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts.
The voters said they were “excited, happy and that they fulfilled their responsibility as democratic citizens.”
Eighteen-year-old Gayathri goes to college in Chennai and cast her vote at the Government High School in Kandiyur, Thiruvaiyaru constituency. Asked about her feelings as a first-time voter, she said, “I am excited”. S.Deepa, a student of SASTRA University came to cast her vote at Srinivasa Rao Higher Secondary school at Thiruvaiyaru. “People can bring about changes through elections. I am interested in politics,” she said.
Karthika, a student of Dayananda Saraswathi College of Arts and Science at Manjakudi in Tiruvarur district said that it was her duty to vote in elections. She cast her vote at a school at Mukundanur in Tiruvarur district.
Ranjitha, another first time voter and a student SASTRA University said that she would exercise the option of 49 (O) as she was not happy with any of the candidates contesting in Thanjavur assembly constituency. She came to vote at Umamaheswaranar College at Karanthai in Thanjavur.
Mohammed Sultan Ali, a college student said, “It is our democratic right to vote. We should not miss it.” Nearly all the voters had booth slips issued by the election commission.

Prospects bright for the DMK: Karunanidhi

A polling official places an indelible ink mark on the finger of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: M. Vedhan
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Wednesday said that his party could form either single party government or a coalition government.
After exercising his franchise along with his wife Dayalu Ammal at a school close to his Gopalapuram residence, Mr. Karunanidhi told reporters that the poll prospects of his party were as bright as the rising sun, the symbol of his party. The victory for his party would be such that it would be able to form the government on its own.
To a question, he termed the Election Commission's actions severe. He would not say that the Commission acted in a partial manner. There would be nothing wrong if those, who were affected in a few places because of the Commission's actions, said so.
To a question on All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalailthaa's charge that the DMK was resorting to violence, Mr. Karunanidhi said that one could know who was encouraging violence, given the fact that a DMK local functionary at Vikaravandi was killed.
In a statement, the DMK leader accused Ms. Jayalalithaa of levelling baseless charges on the issue of violence. Asked for his reaction to the Commission's approach, Deputy Chief Minister and DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin said that events in the last two days had demonstrated that the Commission had not taken impartial steps, despite the Chief Minister's appeal.

I am responsible for cut in ‘feeding charges': CEO


Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar on Wednesday clarified that he, not anyone else, was responsible for the cut in “feeding charges” for ex-servicemen personnel whose services were employed for the polls.
Explaining his position, the CEO told a press conference here that as per the Election Commission's instruction, security personnel should be given remuneration as done in the case of polling officers and presiding officers. But, in 2009, the ex-servicemen were paid Rs. 60 over and above the remuneration. As the remuneration included the component for food which was Rs. 100 per person, he had decided that there was no need for any additional payment.
But, this had generated resentment among the ex-servicemen and when he came to know three days ago that the resentment might affect the poll, he took permission from the State government and the decision was taken to restore the additional charges.
Repeating that “I am the culprit,” Mr Praveen Kumar acknowledged that “perhaps it was because of my background in the Finance department, I had done it.”

Stars exercise their democratic right

Actor Rajinikanth at a polling booth in Stella Maris College in Chennai. Photo: S.R. RaghunathanIn star-gazing Tamil Nadu, actors definitely make news even if they were only exercising their franchise along with over 75 per cent of voters.


Superstar Rajinikanth was at the Stella Maris polling booth at about 11 a.m. and when he went in to cast his vote, he was mobbed by camera persons as usual. Speaking to TV channels outside his residence later, he said the issues for him during this election included price rise and stability in governance. He also said the Anna Hazare campaign against corruption had his support.

When Kamal Haasan came to the Eldams Road school to cast his vote, he insisted that the camera personnel move away so that he could have complete privacy while pressing the button on the voting machine. “I have come here to do my duty, I request you to grant me privacy,” he said.

PLEASANTLY SURPRISED


Actors Suriya and Karthi accompanied their father actor Sivakumar and sister Brinda to the Hindi Prachar Sabha booth in T.Nagar, at about 9 a.m. The other voters were pleasantly surprised to see the family waiting in the queue to cast their vote. Suriya, who has just finished shooting for ‘7aum arivu', said: “I am relatively free now. I had to make a trip to Mumbai, but decided to cast my vote and leave later,” 

said the actor, clad in a blue tee and jeans. Karthi too said he did not have to reschedule his shoot. Actor Ajith Kumar also stood in the queue at a booth in Tiruvanmiyur, waiting for his turn to vote.

Actor Vadivelu who voted in a booth in Saligramam did an impromptu jig just after he cast his vote. Later, he even sang a few lines from an MGR song indicating the three essential qualities of a leader.

Actor Khushboo and her husband director C. Sundar cast their vote at a booth in the Santhome area. The family of actor Vijay, including his father director S.A.Chandrasekar; actor-turned MP D.Napoleon, actors Prabhu, and Trisha were among those who voted in Chennai on Wednesday.

Alagiri confident of victory

Union Minister M.K. Alagiri casting his vote at a polling station in Madurai on Wednesday. Photo: G. Moorthy
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will emerge victorious and party president M. Karunanidhi will form the government, the party's south zone organising secretary and Union Minister, M.K. Alagiri, averred on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote at a polling station near his residence here, Mr. Alagiri said that the party's political opponents were sure of losing the elections and accusing DMK functionaries of bribing voters and indulging in violence. This was not true.
A large number of DMK candidates may have spent money well within the ambit of Election Commission norms, he said.
Overall, the DMK front will bag around 200 seats. In the south zone it will win at least 45 seats out of 60, he asserted.
While Mr. Karunanidhi sought votes after fulfilling his promises, the AIADMK leader could not do so. “She did nothing for the people when she was Chief Minister twice and that is the reason why the Opposition found fault with personalities in the DMK front.”
The activities of the Election Commission gave the impression that Tamil Nadu was passing through an uneasy situation in the run-up to the elections. This was wrong. Tamil Nadu was one State where polling was held on a single day and in a single phase. There was no problem at all.
Some officials were bent upon facilitating the AIADMK's return to power. People would defeat such moves, he said while replying to a query.