Poll panel censures Tamil Nadu minister for distributing gifts

New Delhi, April 30 (Inditop) The Election Commission Thursday censured Tamil Nadu’s Transport Minister K.N. Nehru for allegedly distributing free gifts like bicycles, saris and rice to prospective voters.

The poll panel said it received a complaint that the minister had distributed free gift articles such as cycles, saris, dhotis and rice during a function at Srirangam in Tiruchirapall March 7 – a violation of the model code of conduct.

The commission said following the complaint, the District Election officer and Tiruchirapalli District Collector issued notice to Nehru March 13 asking him to explain the matter.

In his March 18 reply, the minister had said the programme was scheduled for March 1 – which was before the model code of conduct came into force – but the schedule was changed as he was not able to attend it because of personal reasons.

He also said that the meeting was then scheduled for March 7 by DMK cadres. Nehru said the function was “neither government function nor was it assisted by the government and that the financial assistance was given by the economically wealthy people and well wishers of M.K. Stalin.”

Stalin is the son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and the state’s local administration minister.

“You have admitted the fact of distribution of free gifts as alleged and your aforesaid act during the period of operation of the model code of conduct amounts to bribing voters with a view to influencing exercise of electoral right in your favour or in favour of your party or rewarding any person for voting in favour of your party,” the Election Commission said in a statement.

The Commission said it amounts to violation of the model code of conduct and also tantamounts to violation of section 171(B) of the Indian Penal Code.

“Now, therefore, the Commission has decided to censure you for violation of the above mentioned provisions of the model code of conduct and law,” it said.