iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 11, 2014
In a bid to crack whip on use of black money in polls, the Election Commission has set up a monitoring committee of senior officials drawn from revenue and intelligence services for better coordination and prompt action on suspect financial movement.

The commission has set up a committee for the first time before polls and it will meet twice in a week to generate common leads and flag suspects money trials that could be used to disturb the electoral level playing field.

The agencies included in the committee are Income Tax Intelligence, Financial Intelligence Unit, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau and intelligence wings of Border Security Force, Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) and of Railway Protection Force.

The officials said the basic idea for having a coordination committee was to provide quick inputs to the ground level enforcement officers to take action. "It also provides us an opportunity to monitor inflow of black money in polls. Earlier, the inputs being provided by intelligence agencies were getting lost at the ground level," an official said.

The in-charges of various agencies, who are part of the committee, have also been asked to ensure that action is taken on the intelligence collected by their regional or state level offices. "The information should reach the relevant returning officer or expenditure observer at the shortest possible time," the official said.

The EC has also asked these agencies to compile their respective information in a standard format so that the poll panel is updated about the use of illegal money and other inducements in the polls.

The Election Commission also briefed expenditure observers about these measures at a meeting on Tuesday. The observers were informed about the modus operandi of the political parties and candidates to pump in black money in polls, especially a few days before voting.

The EC has identified constituencies vulnerable to high expenditure across India. Sources said that most of these constituencies are in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and in some northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab. Some parts of the north-east have also been identified as vulnerable to abuse use of money to allure voters.

EC has seized around Rs. 100 crore in last assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. A substantial but a lesser amount was seized during assembly polls in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, EC officials said.