With only two days to go for the byelection in the Tirupparankundram Assembly constituency, a visit by The Hindu to several pockets in the constituency on Thursday revealed that cash was being distributed selectively to voters by at least three political parties, including the two Dravidian majors — AIADMK and DMK.
Unlike complaints witnessed during the previous byelection in 2016, cash distribution is not being done door-to-door, but only at select households in a majority of the areas. This has caused disappointment among those who have not received money. In at least two villages, people were seen proactively enquiring with party cadre on why they were ignored in the cash distribution.
Inquiries revealed that party cadre, roped in by the two Dravidian parties and the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam for election campaign from outside Madurai district, were tasked with the distribution of cash with assistance from the local cadre. The parties have assigned cadre from outside the district for each polling booth. In Tirupparankundram town, many residents said party cadre have been camping on streets for the last three days.
According to people The Hindu spoke to, while one party distributed ₹1,500, the other two were giving ₹1,000 to select voters.
A cadre from the CPI(M), speaking on anonymity, said the distribution by two political parties in his area in Tirupparankundram was over. “The other party has so far paid its cadre and those who regularly attend their meetings. They are identifying households who are likely to vote for them,” he said.
A. Puliyan from Muthupatti village near Nagamalai Pudukkottai said people were agitated that many had not been paid. He said it seemed as if people expected to be bribed to exercise their franchise.
A woman from the village said when she approached the cadre from one of the parties, she was assured that she would receive the payment on Thursday night.
S. Nagarajan, District Election Officer, said swift action was being taken on all complaints. He pointed out the detention of four persons belonging to the AIADMK on Wednesday for alleged distribution of money in Avaniapuram.
Highlighting that the Election Commission mandated only three flying squad teams in an Assembly constituency, he said the Tirupparankundram constituency, however, had 13 teams.