Barely hours after the Lok Sabha election to the Vellore parliamentary constituency in Tamil Nadu was cancelled following the recovery of a huge amount of cash, a group of Income Tax (I-T) department officials on Tuesday conducted searches at the Tuticorin residence of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) lawmaker Kanimozhi, the sister of party chief MK Stalin.
Though there were reports that "lots of cash" was stored on the first floor of her Tuticorin house, sources close to the I-T department, later told NDTV, "it was a false tip and they drew a blank", adding that no case has been registered in this regard.
The searches were conducted to "verify allegations of cash being stashed" at her house in Tuticorin, from where Kanimozhi is scheduled to contest the Lok Sabha elections 2019. Scores of DMK supporters also thronged outside her residence, protesting against the raid, conducted by the IT officials in Thoothukudi.
Polling in Vellore, which was scheduled to be held on April 18, has been cancelled for the first time in the history of Indian politics in cash-for-votes allegations this evening. The Election Commission took the decision, days after a large sum of cash was seized from a warehouse allegedly close to DMK treasurer Durai Murugan.
On March 30, Income Tax officials had conducted searches at the residence of Durai Murugan over suspected use of unaccounted money for electioneering, and seized Rs 10.50 lakh in alleged "excess" cash. Two days later, they claimed to have seized Rs 11.53 crore from a cement godown belonging to a DMK leader's associate in the same district.
Murugan, however, said that he had not concealed anything. Questioning the timing of the Income Tax department's operation, he had alleged that the raids were a "conspiracy" by certain political leaders who could not face them in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Besides, a police complaint has been registered against Murugan's son Kathir Anand, as well as two other party functionaries on the basis of a report from the Income Tax department on April 10.
Anand, who was scheduled to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Vellore, is charged under the Representation of the People Act for giving "wrong information" in his election affidavit filed along with his nomination papers. The other two, identified as Srinivasan and Damodaran, were booked under bribery charges.
The cash haul was part of Rs 500 crore illegal cash seized from across Tamil Nadu by the Income Tax department ahead of Lok Sabha polls slated for April-May, 2019.
General Elections in the rest of the 38 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu is scheduled to be held in a single phase on April 18, 2019. The counting of votes for seven phase Lok Sabha elections will be taken up on May 23.