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February 8, 2002
1920 IST

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Andipatti: Rivals trade charges

N Sathiya Moorthy in Chennai

In Tamil Nadu, rarely do leaders of rival political parties share the same aircraft -- just as they don't share the same platform.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Chief Minister, O Panneerselvam, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam youth wing leader, M K Stalin, took the same flight from Madurai to Chennai after campaigning in Andipatti assembly constituency, where by-election is due on February 21.

Panneerselvam, who returned after campaigning for party chief J Jayalalithaa, predicted a clean sweep for the party. "Amma will win by a margin of 100,000 votes," he said. The chief minister charged the DMK with attempts to get the by-election cancelled.

Chennai Mayor M K Stalin, however, did not agree. "The DMK is not interested in the cancellation of poll. We want the poll to be held in accordance with the law, and we are taking all legal measures to ensure that," he explained.

Meanwhile, the state police has filed a case against Stalin for violating the Election Commission's code of conduct. According to the police, 15 cars had accompanied Stalin during his campaign, against the approved three.

In turn, the DMK referred to Jayalalithaa's motorcade when she filed her nominations. Hundreds of vehicles came in a procession that day, they complained.

A native of Dindigul town, which is not part of the Andipatti constituency, has moved the Madras high court seeking postponement of the poll. "Holding the by-election in Andipatti after postponing them in Saidapet and Vaniyambadi violates Article 14 of the Constitution, granting equality before law," the petitioner said.

The Delhi high court had postponed for Tuesday further hearing on a petition filed by Vaigai Sekhar, the DMK nominee in Andipatti. He has questioned the Election Commission's decision on the issue of bogus voters in Andipatti.

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