|Commission to maintain a close watch|
NEW DELHI: The byelection to the Madurai West Assembly constituency, scheduled for June 26, may not be postponed at this stage.
The indication was given by the Election Commission, after reviewing the situation in the constituency on Friday. It directed the Chief Electoral Officer and poll observers to maintain a close watch and send reports.
Highly placed Commission sources told The Hindu: “We will keep our option open. In the last two days, there has been some improvement in the ground situation. Chances of postponement have receded. But, it is not an improvement with which the Commission is fully satisfied. We will constantly review the situation in the run up to the polls.”
At a meeting held in the morning, the Commission considered the reports of the observers, and the response of the State Government detailing steps taken to improve the law and order situation in the constituency, including arrests made in the last two days.
Earlier in the day, a senior Union Minister belonging to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam spoke to a Commissioner to ascertain whether the byelection would be postponed. According to the sources, the Commissioner told him that reports of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi threatening to go on indefinite fast amounted to a “veiled threat.”
The Minister informed the Commission that the Chief Minister had not issued any such statement.
Subsequently, Union Shipping Minister and leader of the DMK Parliamentary Party, T.R. Baalu, issued a statement (to PTI) that reports of Mr. Karunanidhi threatening to go on fast were “baseless and false.” He added: “My leader has not made any statement to that effect.”
The Commission sources said the Prime Minister’s Office also got in touch with the Commission and denied reports that Mr. Karunanidhi would go on fast. The Commission made it clear to the PMO that it could not accept a private denial for a public statement. Either the statement must be withdrawn, or there must be a public denial.
According to the sources, Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathy, faxed a letter to the Commission stating that he had spoken to the Chief Minister, and the latter had denied having issued any statement that he would go on fast.
The Commission, after a second meeting in the evening, decided not to postpone the elections at this juncture.
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MK scuttled EC move on postponement: Jaya
Friday June 22 2007 13:18 IST
MADURAI: Launching a frontal attack on Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Thursday accused him of blackmailing UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to arm-twist the Election Commission from postponing the June 26 bypoll to the Madurai West Assembly Constituency.
Speaking at an election meeting here to seek votes for her party candidate Sellur K Raju, she said the Congress president was meekly caving in to the pressure exerted by the DMK. Apprehensive of a crisis to the ruling coalition at the Centre, the Congress had ensured that the by-election was not postponed, she added.
According to her, the EC had taken a serious view of the largescale violations and money distribution in the constituency and was all set to issue the order, deferring the elections. However, Karunanidhi had successfully scuttled it, she claimed.
Referring to the Presidential election, she charged Karunanidhi with working against the interests of the Tamils by denying President APJ Abdul Kalam, a ‘proud’ Tamil, a second term.
The DMK chief, who is never tired of claiming the leadership for the Tamils, was only interested in securing a Cabinet berth for his daughter Kanimozhi. This was the deal he had struck with the Congress to extend support for Pratibha Patil, the UPA candidate, she said.
Taking on the Chief Minister for promoting his son M K Azhagiri as an extra-constitutional authority, she said this had led to the collapse of the law and order machinery in the southern districts.
Listing out the various charges against Azhagiri, she said that he was the prime accused in the murder of DMK former minister Tha Kiruttinan and in the Dinakaran attack case. She also said that Azhagiri only presided over the cash distribution to voters, besides indulging in intimidation tactics in the by-election.
Taking a dig at the Chief Minister being eulogized as ‘Manu Neethi Cholan’, she asked whether Karunanidhi was prepared to render justice like the legendary king to the families of the three employees of Dinakaran, who died in the attack on the office of the daily, reportedly by the supporters of Azhagiri.
Even the Maran brothers, who cried foul initially, were negotiating for a compromise, forgetting the assurance given to secure justice for the employees of the newspaper, she remarked.
‘‘ Can we forgive them?’’ she asked the people. She expressed confidence that the voters could not be ‘purchased’ and if that was the case, only the Tatas and Birlas would be ruling the country.
She blamed the DMK Government for failing to implement the promises made during the Assembly elections and the spiralling prices of essential commodities and appealed to the electorate to use this by-election for a political change at the Centre as well as in the State.
MDMK General Secretary Vaiko and a host of former AIADMK ministers were also present.
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS