Deployment of observers in RK Nagar a new national record: EC

The appointment of five observers for the high stakes bypoll in late Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar seat on April 12, is the highest in the country’s electoral history

Photo by R Senthil Kumar/PTI
Photo by R Senthil Kumar/PTI


The appointment of five observers for the April 12 RK Nagar bypoll in Chennai is the highest in the country's electoral history.

After a high-level review meeting chaired by Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha on March 30, the government said such a deployment was "highest" in the country's "history of elections".

Following complaints by parties, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), of alleged money distribution to the voters, the Election Commission had days ago appointed two Special Observers to monitor expenditure in addition to the three deployed already.

Also, more than a dozen Income Tax officials have been assigned to look into complaints of money distribution, the Greater Chennai Corporation, which is the District Election Office, said in an official release here tonight.

The DEC directed deputation of two IAS and IPS officers on night rounds in the constituency, deploying micro-observers in all the 256 polling stations and web-casting in all the booths. Already, there more than 25 flying squads and static surveillance teams. VVPAT will be in place in the constituency alongside EVMs, the release said. Adequate companies of CAPF personnel are also being deployed, the release added.

The RK Nagar bypoll was necessitated by the death of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The results will likely have a big impact on Tamil Nadu politics. The DMK must win. If it loses in a seat where two AIADMK factions are also competing against each other without the two leaves symbol, and with Jayalalithaa’s neice Deepa Jayakumar also in the fray, it will be a loss of face for working president MK Stalin. The O Paneerselvam-led AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction must win. A loss will make it unattractive to members of the other AIADMK faction and its assembly numbers will remain too low to wrest back control of the party—and potentially the state government. VK Sasikala’s AIADMK (Amma) must win. If its candidate and Sasikala’s relative TTV Dinakaran loses, the charges of Sasikala ‘usurping’ Jayalalithaa’s legacy could well stick. Her faction could then see a rush of desertions. RK Nagar, thus, is not the usual assembly bypoll which can often favour the ruling party. It’s result may alter the future course of Tamil Nadu politics.

With inputs by NH Political Bureau.

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