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Suspense over Vellore LS poll after cash seizure


Chennai: With a large amount of cash being seized by the Income Tax (IT) Department from a cement godown in Vellore district that belongs to a DMK official, suspense continues over whether the Lok Sabha polls for the Vellore seat in Tamil Nadu will be held as scheduled on April 18 or will be postponed.

On Monday, IT officials found bundles of cash stuffed in cartons and gunny bags in a cement warehouse belonging to a DMK official who is said to be close to party Treasurer Duraimurugan.

The cash haul runs into several crore of rupees.

Following the seizure, the immediate question is whether the April 18 Lok Sabha polls for Vellore constituency will be cancelled and held on a later date.

Duraimurugan's son D.M. Kathir Anand is the DMK candidate for the Vellore seat.

In 2017, the Election Commission (EC) had postponed the by-election for the R.K. Nagar Assembly constituency after complaints of large-scale bribing of voters.

The IT officials had raided the residences and business premises of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar, his relatives as well as people close to him and his business associates.

"We have seized cash totalling Rs 5.5 crore. We have also seized documents showing Rs 89 crore changed hands in R.K. Nagar," an IT official had then told IANS.

In 2016, the EC had postponed polls for the Thanjavur and Aravakuruchi Assembly seats following reports of large-scale bribery of voters.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said that after completion of search operations the IT department will give a report.

The EC will thereafter take a decision on the issue.

There are 23 candidates in the fray in Vellore constituency.

"I am ready to face the elections whether held on April 18 or later," R. Suresh, MNM candidate from the Vellore constituency, told IANS.

"After the IT raids and seizure of sacks of cash, many who have been voting for the DMK have told me they would vote for me this time," he added.

He, however, questioned why the IT department was raiding only DMK officials and not AIADMK officials also.

Suresh is fighting against the AIADMK's A.C. Shanmugam and the DMK's Anand among others.

According to a senior IT department official, the cash was shifted from Kingston College belonging to Duraimurugan Educational Trust in Vellore to the cement godown in the intervening night between March 29-30.

Anand has moved the Madras High Court to halt IT raids on their premises.

A couple of days back, IT officials raided the house of Duraimurugan in Vellore and seized Rs 10 lakh in cash.

The college campus run by Anand was also searched by IT officials.

The IT raid was condemned by Duraimurugan who said it was an act of political vendetta.

The IT department's lens perhaps turned on Duraimurugan after he announced a cash incentive of Rs 50 lakh for the best performing party worker.

AIADMK's A.C. Shanmugam also promised two wheelers to six top performing party officials.

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