December 9, 2017
Giving in to pressure from the entire opposition, the Election Commission on Saturday removed the controversial Returning Officer for the RK Nagar assembly by elections, K Velusamy. He had come under controversy after he rejected then accepted and then rejected the nomination papers of actor Vishal Krishna.
According to an official notification, senior IAS official Praveen P Nair has replaced the controversial Returning Officer Velusamy.
The entire opposition, including the CPM, Pattali Makkal Katchi and Viduthalai Chirtutaigal Katchi, sought the removal of the Returning officer alleging that he was working at the behest of the ruling EPS-OPS led AIADMK. Actor Vishal too complained to the governor seeking action against the electoral officer and he also petitioned the President and the Prime Minister.
The principal opposition party, the DMK had demanded the transfer of the returning office for the way in which he disqualified actor Vishal from the race. The actor himself claimed that two of his supporters were pressurised into making statements that their signatures were forged.
Velusamy had on Wednesday rejected the nomination papers of Vishal, then accepted them after audio recording of conversation between Vishal and one of his supporters was made available to the RO in which his supporter alleged of pressure from the OPS camp to make a statement against Vishal. The actor also express apprehensions about the safety of his proposers, Sumathi K and Deepan.
The election commission order comes as a big boost to the opposition as the perception that the officialdom was trying to help the ruling dispensation was gaining ground among the people and this could go against the ruling party. In the given scenario, the situation the DMK could find the going a tad easier for itself as the ruling AIADMK faces a split in its votes due to the Dinakaran factor.
Actor Vishal too, if his nomination is finally accepted by the new Returning Officer, could also take away the ruling party’s votes, making the way for DMK to wrest the seat.
The outcome of the RK Nagar assembly bye poll this holds great significance as also give an indication to the shape of politics to come in the very near future, and for sure in the 2019 general elections to Lok Sabha.
Which more or less explains the PM Narendra Modi’s courtesy call on ailing DMK leader and its patriarch M Karunanidhi at his home. Political observers feel that the BJP central leadership could be preparing for future tie up with the DMK.
But again, this hinges on the outcome of Gujarat assembly elections, the results of which are to be declared on December 18.
If the BJP retains Gujarat, as is being widely speculated and asserted by pre-poll surveys, then the DMK could think seriously of going along with the BJP. It may be recalled that the DMK was in alliance with the BJP and was a participant in the NDA government led by Vajpayee.