Rado watches, drugs, cash: Election Commission’s seizures in poll-bound states | assembly-elections | Hindustan Times
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Rado watches, drugs, cash: Election Commission’s seizures in poll-bound states

Uttar Pradesh tops the list with a cash haul of Rs 109.79 crore by the poll panel

assembly elections Updated: Feb 27, 2017 20:05 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Cash haul alone by agencies in poll-bound states has gone up three times from Rs 49.70 crore in 2012 to Rs 173.43 crore, contrary to the expectations of the government and the poll panel that demonetisation would reduce the circulation of unaccounted for money.
Cash haul alone by agencies in poll-bound states has gone up three times from Rs 49.70 crore in 2012 to Rs 173.43 crore, contrary to the expectations of the government and the poll panel that demonetisation would reduce the circulation of unaccounted for money.(PTI File Photo)

There has been a steep increase in seizures of cash, liquor and drug by the Election Commission during the ongoing assembly elections as compared to five years ago, data from the poll panel show.

Cash haul alone by agencies in poll-bound states has gone up three times from Rs 49.70 crore in 2012 to Rs 173.43 crore, contrary to the expectations of the government and the poll panel that demonetisation would reduce the circulation of unaccounted for money.

Elections to pick new state assemblies are underway in Uttar Pradesh; Manipur will go to polls on March 4 and 8; while Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand have just concluded the electoral exercise.

The election commission, aided by income tax officials and state police forces carry out drills to check the misuse of money during elections. Inspections and raids are conducted to swoop down on freebies for distribution.

Apart from cash that is used to bribe voters, the panel also keeps an eye out for political parties and candidates relying on liquor, drugs and other gifts to incentivise voters.

As per the commission’s data from January 4, when the model code of conduct was implemented, until February 18, the total cash seized from four states is about Rs 173.43 crore. Manipur data is yet to be collated.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list with a cash haul of Rs 109.79 crore, with Punjab in the second place with Rs 58.02 crore, Uttarakhand comes next with Rs 3.38 crore and Goa with Rs 2.24 crore.

The latest data released by the EC, however, does not identify the parties or candidates from whom these seizures have been made. EC sources could not also explain why despite limited cash in circulation after the two high-value currency notes were banned, the spending on liquor and drugs has not shown the expected dip.

“The commission was expecting the cash seizures to come down, but there was no let up in checks and raids, which explains the large amounts of currency and liquor taken into possession,” an official said.

The EC’s list shows UP tops the list of states with the highest liquor, drug and precious metal seizures. From liquor worth Rs 6.61 lakh in the previous assembly poll, agencies have confiscated liquor worth Rs 52.50 crore, drugs and narcotics worth Rs 7.22 crore and gold and silver worth Rs 25.15 crore this year.

Agencies in Punjab have seized liquor worth Rs 13.36 crore up from Rs 2.59 crore. Drugs and narcotics worth Rs 18.26 crore and precious metal worth Rs 26.14 crore have also been taken into possession by agencies.

Liquor seizure in Uttarakhand went up from 15,151 litres worth Rs. 15.15 lakh in 2012 to 1.01 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs. 3.10 crore. Agencies also bagged 81 kg drugs and narcotics worth Rs. 37.23 lakh in the hill state.

In Goa, the enforcement agencies seized liquor worth Rs. 1.07 crore, drugs and narcotics worth Rs. 33.21 lakh in addition to 175 Rado watches worth Rs. 55.55 lakh.