Thursday, May 23, 2024


EC cracks down on money power, seizes record Rs 4,650 cr

IANS | April 15, 2024 05:09 PM

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Agencies have seized over Rs 4, 650 crore before the first phase of polling on April 19, which is the highest-ever seizure of inducements recorded in the 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections, said the Election Commission on Monday.

This marks a sharp increase over Rs 3, 475 crore seized during the entire Lok Sabha election in 2019. Significantly, 45 per cent of the seizures are of drugs and narcotics, which are under the special focus of the Commission.

In the country-wide operation, the EC said that the seizures were possible through comprehensive planning, scaled-up collaboration and unified deterrence action from agencies, proactive citizen participation and optimal engagement of technology.

The Commission said that the use of black money could have disturbed the level playing field.

In an incident in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, the Commission suspended the flying squad team leader for laxity in duty and selective checking of a cavalcade of a prominent leader.

Similarly, officials checked vehicles in the convoy of a CM of a state and also the vehicle of a Deputy CM in another state.

The commission has also taken strict action against approximately 106 government servants who were found assisting politicians in campaigning, thereby violating the Code of Conduct and instructions.

CEC Rajiv Kumar has stressed strict compliance with BCAS instructions on surveillance and inspection of non-scheduled aircraft and helicopters by income tax, airport authorities and SPs of concerned districts, said the officials.

Border agencies have also been asked to keep a close watch on international checkposts, and the GST authorities have to closely monitor godowns, especially makeshift godowns meant for storing freebies, the EC said.

Senior officials from the Election Commission visited every state and Union territory to emphasize the importance of combating the influence of money in elections months before elections and more intensively from January.

An EC official said that districts were thoroughly reviewed, and discussions were held with Chief Secretaries, Directors General of Police (DGPs), and heads of enforcement agencies to assess their performance and encourage heightened vigilance against the misuse of financial resources during elections.

The ECI said that as a result, in January and February, the months preceding the official announcement, countrywide seizures totalling another Rs 7, 502 crore were recorded in the form of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies. This brought the total seizure to over Rs 12, 000 crore even as six weeks are still left in the election period.

The agencies also focused on drug seizures, which accounted for approximately 75 per cent of the total seizures in January and February 2024, according to the officials.

A total of 123 Parliamentary Constituencies were marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for more vigil. These constituencies had either had a history of distribution of inducements in previous elections or had interstate and international borders with potential inflow of drugs, cash, and liquor.

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