Electronic Voting Machine
[Representational Image]YouTube screengrab

The Election Commission, following a late-night decision, said on Sunday, April 9, that the Assembly byelections in the RK Nagar constituency in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, to be held on April 12, had been cancelled. The announcement came after it emerged that massive amounts of money had changed hands and reached voters.

The RK Nagar seat fell vacant after the death of former chief minister and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on December 6. 

The EC decision came in the aftermath of income-tax (I-T) raids on Tamil Nadu Health Minister Vijaybaskar, who is accused of having distributed money to voters to induce them to poll for TTV Dinakaran — the Sasikala camp candidate and Sasikala Natarajan's nephew. Raids were also conducted on properties of politicians like Sarath Kumar.

Also read: RK Nagar by-polls could be countermanded after Income Tax raids

Subsequently, the I-T Department said the AIADMK – which had split into the Sasikala and O Panneerselvam (or OPS) factions, with OPS thrown out of the party along with loyalists – had distributed Rs 4,000 to each voter to poll for Dinakaran. This induced the EC to cancel the by-election.

Political violence

The EC decision came just hours after violence was reported between the OPS and Sasikala factions during campaigning for the RK Nagar bypolls. VP Sivasubramani of the Sasikala faction of the AIADMK told reporters that one of them was injured after supporters of OPS attacked them when they had an argument.

He also alleged that the police remained "mere spectators" and did not intervene in any manner. They had "video proof" of the entire incident, he said.