Medical Shop Run By Twenty20 In Kizhakkambalam Asked To Shut Down

Kochi: Following a complaint that a medical shop opened by Twenty20 party in Kizhakkambalam violated election model code of conduct (MCC), the returning officer directed it to be closed on Monday.

The directive was based on a complaint filed Sudheer C S and Althaf M M. The complainants alleged that Twenty20 in Kizhakkambalam grama panchayat is running a supermarket called ‘Bhakshya Suraksha Market’ and started a new medical shop in the supermarket premises on March 21. Hefty discounts on medicines are offered to lure voters, the complaint said.

The medical shop was recently inaugurated by Twenty20 chief Sabu M Jacob. The complainants produced a video of Jacob speaking during the medical shop’s inaugural function.

Twenty20 clarified that the party has no role in the functioning of the supermarket and it was opened even before the party was formed in 2016.

In a hearing by an MCC nodal officer on Saturday, the party clarified that the medicine counter is only an extension of the supermarket and the inaugural function is not related to the political party. Following this, the nodal officer examined the issue in detail.

The nodal officer observed that Twenty20 party and Twenty20 Association have the same officer bearers and Twenty20 party, the supermarket and Twenty20 Association share the same logo.

The order points out that Jacob’s speech during the medical shop inauguration can be seen as a direct inducement to voters. “Even if Sabu M Jacob says it is not a political party programme but a programme by Kitex Childrenswear Ltd and he attended as a director, it can still be seen as a third person inducing to vote for a party,” it said.

“It is revealed that there is a violation of section 4.4.2B(i) of the manual on MCC, and there is a case here which may influence the voters in freely exercising their right to vote by inducement through gratification. Clarification may be sought to the ECI with all aspects. Until then, the medical store shall be shut down as it was announced after the MCC came into effect,” the order said.

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