Cash flow election in Tamil Nadu

electionTamil Nadu is well-known for all sorts of politics. Money, muscle and brain mingle freely in the elections and in administration. Unprecedently this Lok Sabha polls witnesses a huge flow of money in the election battle. The Hindu editorial voices its concerns, 5 May 2009, No political party can claim to have adhered to the Model Code of Conduct in letter and spirit all the time. Several parties, big and small, ruling or in the opposition, across India have honoured the guidelines in the breach. Tamil Nadu’s ruling party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has crossed previous limits by its transgressions of the Code — in utter disregard of the Election Commission of India, which is vested by the Constitution with the “superint endence, direction and control of elections.” The Code is meant to provide a level playing field to all parties, with its crucial Part VII designed to ensure that the ruling party at the Centre and in the States does not misuse its official position for campaigning. By effecting a Statewide reduction in bus fares just days before the Lok Sabha election without even a formal government order, the DMK government has fallen foul of the rules of the game. If the overnight reduction without any prior announcement was bad enough, worse was the explanation offered to the Election Commission by the Chief Secretary: that the managing directors of the State transport undertakings took the decision on their own. That all the transport corporations ordered a downward revision on the same day without consulting the Minister was such a tall tale that the Election Commission was able swiftly to dismiss the explanation and ask the State government to withdraw the fare cut. However, the bus fare cut is only one of several violations of the Code. Madurai, where M.K. Azhagiri, son of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, is contesting on the DMK ticket, is witness to money power and muscle power undermining the democratic process. Ruling partymen have been distributing money to voters and attacking political opponents who objected to their ways. Several cases have been filed and the Chief Electoral Officer has sent a report to the Election Commission. Evidently, an attempt is being made to replicate the formula worked out in the by-election for the Thirumangalam Assembly constituency in Madurai district in January. Then as now, huge resources were placed in the hands of the ruling party’s campaign managers; and the Election Commission had to step in and transfer officials seen to be favouring the ruling party. The DMK won the constituency by a huge margin, and Mr. Azhagiri was seen, within the DMK and outside, as the protagonist of a New Way of winning elections. It is now up to the Election Commission of India to act decisively to ensure that dadagiri, whether by ruling partymen or others, has no place in the elections scheduled for May 13 in Tamil Nadu. Only the tough election commission decision can save the Lok Sabha polls from the usual abuses