• Thursday, February 02, 2023

HEADLINE STORY

India Cancels Election In Southern Constituency Over ‘Vote Buying’

Indian polling officials arrange Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), which will be used for elections, at a voting distrubution point in Darjeeling on April 16, 2019, ahead of the second phase of India’s general election (Photo: DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images).

By: Radhakrishna NS

INDIAN election authorities have cancelled voting in a southern region of the country after seizing more than Rs 110 million (£1.21m) they believe was meant to influence the outcome, officials said today (17).

It is the first time a ballot has been cancelled in a national election over attempted vote-buying, officials said.

The decision comes as Indians vote in a mammoth national election being held over several phases, the next of which begins Thursday (18).

But voters in the Vellore constituency in coastal Tamil Nadu state will not be going to the polls as scheduled after the Election Commission of India ruled there were fears of a “systematic design to influence voters”.

The ruling came after authorities seized more than Rs 110m from a candidate in the run-up to the vote.

The commission said late Tuesday (16) that the environment in Vellore was no longer conducive to “free and ethical” elections.

No fresh date has been announced for polling in the constituency.

Nearly 100 constituencies in 13 states go to the polls Thursday (18) in the second round of the seven-phase election that began on April 11.

Almost 900 million voters are eligible to cast their votes to elect 543 members to the lower house of the parliament, with results expected on May 23.

Attempts to secure votes in return for cash, liquor, electronic gadgets and even goats have been reported across Tamil Nadu in the run-up to voting.

More than Rs 1.3 billion (£14.35m) and one ton of gold worth Rs 3bn (£33.11m)have been seized in the state since the poll dates were announced on March 10.

Elsewhere in the country, polls have been delayed by five days in parts of the northeastern state of Tripura over security fears.

Polls will be held there on April 23 instead of Thursday (18).

And in the country’s east, Bangladeshi star actor Ferdous Ahmed has been forced to leave India after he was discovered campaigning for a candidate from the opposition Congress party, officials at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata said.

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