CHENNAI: The crucial bypoll to R K Nagar Assembly segment has generated much heat with political parties lining up with complaints of largescale money distribution to influence voters despite Election Commission (EC) tightening the screws.
Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami feels that EC alone cannot plug the holes in checking the flow of cash. He insists a change of mind on the part of public and politicians to purge the scourge of democracy.
Excerpts of an interview with him.
Despite EC tightening the screws, leaders of opposition parties have alleged that a large sum of money has already flowed in RK Nagar segment. Did the commission fail to check cash distribution?
The EC cannot be blamed. It is too difficult to keep vigil on each of the voter. In a democracy, no power can stop such malady, but only a military dictatorship could do. If we consider keeping a tight watch on voters, we may need 2,000 to 3,000 observers for a constituency. It looks impractical.
A few feel that the unprecedented deployment of poll authorities is meant to choke the avenues of AIADMK-Amma candidate T T V Dhinakaran. How do you view it?
Certainly not. Drafting a large number of officials into poll duty in the constituency cannot be construed in this way. When the entire State goes for poll, there will be resource crunch. However, during by-election to a single segment, we have resource aplenty.
How do you see the peculiar situation in which the voters are heavily bribed in Tamil Nadu?
It’s an absolute shame. Tamil Nadu’s case is the worst. Tamil voters and candidates may go any length to give money and receive it.
What are the comprehensive measures that can help purge the scourge of bribing of voters?
No comprehensive measure can succeed in checking bribing of voters unless and until the minds of the public and politicians change because Tamil Nadu politicians are well trained in bribing voters.
Certain leaders of AIADMK-Amma attribute a motive to I-T raids conducted on the premises of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Basker questioning the timing of the action. Your comments.
It is not right to attribute motive to the raids because Income Tax would do a lot of ground work before raiding premises. I don’t think any relevance to the R K Nagar by-election. The raids have been held in several places simultaneously. If it is in the premises of the candidate, what they are saying may look justifiable.