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Role Of Money Power In Tamil Nadu Election
It is for the first time in history that polls were deferred due to use of money power in two Tamil Nadu constituencies following evidence of use of money power.
Using power vested in it under Article 324 of the constitution, the Election Commission had decided on Sunday, 15th May to defer holding of Assembly elections to the Thanjavur constituency in Tamil Nadu following evidence of large scale distribution of money to the voters. On Saturday 14th May, it had taken a similar decision to postpone polls to the Aravakurichi constituency in the State.
In 2009 parliamentary elections, the DMK parties win in Thirumangalam in Madurai was attributed to what is now called as the 'thirumangalam formula', where huge amount of cash was allegedly paid to the voters and later copied by other parties in future polls. The EC official said that phones in their call centre used to get complaints regarding unethical practices, which can be curbed only if Election Commission becomes more strict and take stern action like disqualification of the party and candidates who are caught distributing cash.
A rough calculation by the expert shows that a party has to shell out Rs. 12 crore if it is an assembly election and 60 crore in a parliamentary election. This amount is perhaps as little as 1-10% percent of the money changing hands between the candidates and voters. In Tamil Nadu it has become a tradition to grease the palm of the voters and the average voters has started believing that the cash for votes is part of the poll ritual.
The biggest challenge faced by the election commission in this poll was to restrict cash distribution by the representatives of various political parties in the state. As the uproar for stringent action against those distributing cash grew louder towards the final stages of election campaigning, the Election Commission had to defer the poll in two constituency.
The Election Commission had announced that the total cash seizures, done for the first time in coordination with the Income tax department was more that 100 crores. Yet the election data shows that even if money is distributed, it does not affect the final outcome of the elections. The data shows that in the past 25 years since 1991 the government has been changing in every election. This shows that the voters take money from whoever offers them, but in the end votes according to his or her choice. It seems that more you try to buy the votes, the greater are chances of your losing the elections.
Inspite of the display of money power, Tamil Nadu is a vibrant democracy as it is very expensive to buy large numbers of votes, and as these payments are made to those who would in any case vote for their favourites. Inspite of the fact that so many lorries are seized and the Election Commissions treasure chests swells as no one come forward to claim the seizures. The democracy is in safe hands in Tamil Nadu as the political opinions are strong and the voters are well informed as the ballots are really secret.