Saturday, July 13, 2024

EC seized Rs 1,760 crore in five poll-bound states in 2023, seven times up from 2018

Till now, the Election Commission has seized Rs 1,760 crore from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, which is seven times more than the Rs 239 crore seized in the 2018 Assembly polls.

The poll panel said that persistent efforts have led to an exponential increase in seizures in the five states. The EC said, “Seizures of over Rs 1,760 crore have been reported in the five poll-going states since announcement of the elections, which is more than seven times (Rs 239.15 crore) the seizures made in the previous Assembly elections in these States in 2018.”

The EC further said that the seizures demonstrate its unwavering commitment to ensuring free, fair and inducement-free elections by implementing robust measures to monitor incentives and curb electoral malpractices for a level playing field.

The poll panel also recalled that seizures of over Rs 1,400 crore were made in the last six Assembly elections held in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Karnataka which was 11 times more than in the previous Assembly elections in these states.

The commission said that this time it has also embedded technology into the monitoring process through the Election Expenditure Monitoring System (ESMS) which is proving to be a catalyst, as it brought a wide array of Central and State enforcement agencies together for better coordination and Intelligence sharing.

The panel said that in Chhattisgarh it made seizures worth Rs 76.9 crore which includes cash to the tune of Rs 20.77 crore, liquor worth Rs 2.16 crore, drugs worth Rs 4.55 crore, precious metals worth Rs 22.76 crore, freebies and other items worth Rs 26.68 crore.

Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, the panel made seizures worth Rs 323.7 crore, including cash worth Rs 33.72 crore, liquor worth 69.85 crore, drugs worth Rs 15.53 crore, precious metals worth Rs 84.1 crore and freebies worth Rs 120.53 crore.

In the case of Rajasthan, the panel made seizures worth Rs 650.7 crore, including cash to the tune of Rs 93.17 crore, liquor worth Rs 51.29 crore, drugs worth Rs 91.71 crore, precious metals worth Rs 73.36 crore and freebies worth Rs 341.24 crore.

In case of Telangana, the panel made seizures worth Rs 659.2 crore including cash to the tune of Rs 225.23 crore, liquor worth Rs 86.82 crore, drugs worth Rs 103.74 crore, precious metals worth Rs 191.02 crore and freebies worth Rs 52.41 crore.

In Mizoram, the commission made seizures worth Rs 49.6 crore, including liquor worth Rs 4.67 crore, drugs worth Rs 29.82 crore, freebies worth Rs 15.16 crore this year.

The commission also said that its monitoring process started with visits of teams headed by Senior DECs/DECs to poll-going States between June and August, wherein, interaction with enforcement agencies and districts was conducted with an aim to sensitise the participating field forces about the importance of expenditure monitoring and also to review their inputs for preparation for elections.

Subsequently, the commission during the review in these states, emphasised on a zero-tolerance approach on checking flow of inducements to influence voters and multi-level actions by enforcement agencies which is reflected in the increase in seizure in these states.

“From the day of these visits, enforcement agencies stepped up their vigil in their respective domains and by the time elections were announced, taken together, they had already reported seizures of Rs 576.20 crore,” the poll panel said.

The commission also held reviews with Chief Secretaries, DGPs, Excise Commissioners, DG (Income Tax) and other senior officers of poll-going States and their respective neighbouring States and UTs. It also said that 228 experienced officers from IRS, IC&CES, IRAS, IDAS and other Central government services have been deployed as expenditure observers.

For close monitoring, 194 Assembly Constituencies have been marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies. It is also ensured that there is adequate availability of field level teams in the monitoring process and regular follow-ups with DEOs/SPs and enforcement agencies is done to deal with menace of money-power.

The efforts on close monitoring will further continue in the poll- going States till completion of the ongoing elections and the figures of seizure are expected to rise further.

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