DMK leaders wooing voters with costly gifts

Saturday 29th November 2014 04:40 EST

Chennai: The DMK might be passing through one of its worst phases, but middle level leaders are using the money power to win organisational elections. Though the top leadership is rarely challenged, candidates for even minor posts like union secretary and town secretary have been offering their voters - the party's panchayat representatives - two-wheelers, costly mobile phones and even residential plots.

In villages, party members elect representatives for the panchayat level. These panchayat representatives elect union secretaries who in turn elect the district secretary. In DMK, the district secretary wields much power and practically controls the organization. To his or her work, victories and defeats are often attributed.

"There have been reports of abduction of candidates as well," a leader said. The party elections turned violent in Krishnagiri district with three cadres sustaining head injuries during the union election. A candidate for union secretary in Thiruvallur district has gifted an iPhone 6 to swing voters. "There were three candidates in the fray for the union secretary post with 70 voters. While this woman gifted smart phones, her competitor has promised scooters for those who would vote for her in the secret ballot system," a former MLA said.

The elections for union and town units at Kanyakumari, Ramanathapuram, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Tiruvannamalai Tuticorin, Sivaganga, Dindugal, Krishnagiri, Cuddalore and Kanchipuram districts have been over. In most of the districts, at least half of the union and town level units have elected their representatives unopposed.

Between 30 and 100 panchayat representatives elect a union secretary according to the size of the union. "A person who is contesting for the secretary post in a larger union which has 100 voters is spending around Rs 2500,000. The candidate has to take his supporters out for at least five days to ensure they don't cross-vote," a DMK district secretary in central Tamil Nadu said.

No date has been set for Coimbatore party polls. "But a DMK functionary who is eying the union secretary post has been promising residential plots for those who change their preference in his favour," said a party youth wing leader in Coimbatore.

Defending the poll process, organizing secretary TKS Elangovan said DMK is the only party that holds elections in a democratic way. He said that the elections for the union and town units would be completed by the end of November. He said the high command has postponed elections in some places because of the allegations but denied voter inducements in the form of gifts.

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