Chennai: Even as the decibels are soaring on the campaign platforms and missiles of harsh attack are flying all around, rival parties and leaders seem to be getting more and more desperate in their ‘preparations’ for the April 18 poll day in Tamil Nadu. In the process, the police and poll commission are busy handling complaints alleging violations of poll code that are pouring in. While these continue to flood the social media, the latest ‘bombshell’ in the long string is the campaign speech of PMK leader Dr Anbumani Ramadoss that seemed to suggest that the booth managers of his alliance, which includes the AIADMK, BJP, DMDK and a host of minor outfits, could indulge in booth-capture to ensure victory for their candidates.
At his campaign rally at Thiruporur on Thursday, where AIADMK’s candidates Maragatham Kumaravel for Kancheepuram (SC) Lok Sabha seat and S Arumugam for Thiruporur Assembly bye-election shared dais space with their party senior and former state minister Valarmathi, Dr Anbumani made a flamboyant declaration that the rival DMK front is so famished that it would not even have enough people to represent it at the polling booths. And that would mean only the poll agents/workers of the AIADMK alliance would be present at the booths and the conclusion is pretty obvious, said the PMK leader even as the AIADMK ex-minister and the two candidates smiled broadly, and understandingly.
“All the parties in our alliance have strong vote banks where in the rival camp, only the DMK has some votes and none of the other parties there have any votes”, declared Dr Anbumani before unleashing his controversial podium script.
Looking at the crowd before him with smug confidence, the PMK leader asked, “Okay then what will happen in the elections? What will happen in the booth? Only we will be at the booth. You understand what I am saying, right?” The audience applauded while the AIADMK candidates and Ms Valarmathi smiled at him in approval.
Continuing, Dr Anbumani said, “Only we will be at the booths.
Then what? Do I have to say it out loud? You understood, right? So that’s all, it’s done. Both of them have won.” he said, pointing to the two AIADMK candidates on the dais. “There will be none in the rival team to question us. So keep all this in your mind. My intention is that this region must develop and that good plans should come here.”
Dr Anbumani’s speech has triggered all-round consternation and got the DMK to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission demanding action against the PMK leader “for having instigated to commit the offence of booth capturing”. The DMK complaint, sent by the party’s legal wing secretary R Girirajan, also listed seven Lok Sabha constituencies-Dharmapuri, Villupuram, Central Chennai, Sriperumpudur, Arakkonam, Cuddalore and Dindigul-and equal number of Assembly
by-election constituencies-Poonamallee, Sholingur, Gudiyatham, Thiruporur, Ambur, Pappireddypatti and Harur-where the PMK is believed to have strong presence, and wanted the EC “to draw adequate para-military forces for each polling booth” in these constituencies.
The DMK petition also wanted the EC “to instruct all Presiding Officers of the respective polling booths to strictly check the identity of the polling agents available in the booths until the poll is over and (to ensure) no unauthorised person shall be allowed to be inside the polling booth”.
DMK leaders fear that Dr Anbumani’s boastful rhetoric could well mean that the ruling party and its allies would resort to blatant booth capturing with the help of the police. His words could also mean that the booth agents of other parties and candidates would not be allowed into the booths.
“Considering what had happened in 2014, when the ruling (AIADMK) had resorted to massive rigging using Section 144 prohibitory orders, we have now asked for stern action against Anbumani and also deployment of adequate number of paramilitary forces,” said a DMK senior. He said the party would move courts if the EC fails to reply within a couple of days to Girirajan’s complaint.
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