CHENNAI: The Election Commission on Saturday ordered change of Returning Officer for Tamil Nadu's Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency, where the bypoll will be held on December 21, said an official.
The poll body has appointed Praveen P Nair as the Returning Officer in the place of K Velusamy who was in the eye of controversy rejecting the nomination papers filed by actor Vishal Krishna, popularly known as Vishal.
According to a communique from the Election Commission to the Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu, Rajesh Lakhoni, the Election Commission of India approved the name of Praveen Nair based on the recommendation of the CEO.
Nair, presently managing director of the Tamil Nadu Corporation for Development of Women, had helmed the RK Nagar poll process as returning officer during March, April this year.
However, the bypoll was cancelled in April due to allegations of bribing voters.
Incidentally, Nair had replaced another state official Padmaja Devi in March after DMK demanded her replacement.
The DMK had also made a written complaint to the Election Commission against Velusamy on Saturday, demanding his replacement as it alleged the official "is functioning with a biased and discriminatory mind" and that he "has also deliberately failed in following the procedure to be adhered to in the election process".
"Our party candidate has given an application on November 29 to set up a central election office in the jurisdiction of the assembly constituency. The said application was kept pending deliberately without any reason whatsoever for more than 10 days because of the pressure of ruling AIADMK," it said.
"It is only after our party announced an agitation; the returning officer had given permission for setting up the central election office on December 8. We were deprived of having an official central election office for more than 10 days which is a clear negligence on the part of the Returning Officer," it added.
The DMK also referred to the manner in which Vishal's nomination form was handled is also a reason for demanding Velusamy's shifting.
"The Returning Officer has become a laughing stock in the eye of the public which the commission may take note of," it told the Election Commission.
The Returning Officer rejected Vishal's nomination papers, saying the signatures of two proposers were forged.
Vishal also tweeted to President Ramnath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to bring his plight to their notice.
In his tweet, the actor said: "To the people, I look upto, Hon @narendramodi & Hon @rashtrapatibhvn I am Vishal, I hope u r aware of wats happening in the RK Nagar Election process in Chennai.
"My nomination was accepted & later rejected. Totally unfair. I bring this to your notice & I hope justice prevails."
On Saturday, Vishal uploaded a video clip on his Twitter account in which a person was seen telling the Election Commission official that the signature he made was not his.
"Here is another instance of mockery of Democracy !!!" he said in a series of tweets.
"The person accepting that the signature made by him is not his."
"He said & I quote, 'Naan Potta Kaiyeludhu Enododhu Illai' (the signature I made is not mine)," Vishal tweeted.
The major contest in the seat, which was held by late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, will be between the ruling AIADMK's E. Madhusudhanan), DMK's N. Marudhu Ganesh and sidelined AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dinakaran, contesting as an Independent candidate.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded K. Nagarajan as its candidate.
The Radhakrishnan Nagar seat fell vacant following the death of Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016.
(with PTI inputs)