Political parties began supplying black money for vote-buying to their workers in Haryana and Maharashtra before the election commission announced assembly poll dates for the two states on Friday, officials said.
The Election Commission (EC) can only direct the state police and other investigating agencies to probe the use of illicit funds in elections after declaring the voting schedule. And political parties are exploiting this escape clause.
Many candidates routinely dole out cash, alcohol and other goodies to voters in Indian elections for acquiring their support. The poll panel seized over Rs 300 crore in cash and more than two crore litres of liquor along with other illegal inducements during the parliamentary and assembly polls this year.
Read:Maharashtra, Haryana assembly polls on October 15; results on 19th
Election officials said the BJP distributed funds for poll management to most district and block-level committees in Haryana, especially in areas where the party is expected to do well based on an internal survey.
“A senior party representative declared at a party function recently that money will not be a constraint. Subsequently, huge amounts of cash reached the functionaries in-charge of these assembly constituencies,” a senior poll panel official said, expressing inability to tackle the problem.
Haryana’s close proximity to Delhi, Rajasthan and Punjab helps parties push liquor and cash into the state without drawing too much attention. The EC officials said that with the announcement of polls, instructions have been issued to the state administrations to put up check posts at all entry and exit points to prevent the inflow of black money and liquor.
In Maharashtra, the officials said, both the NCP and the BJP functionaries have received illicit funds for the elections which have been used to mobilise workers. “Some senior leaders of the two parties themselves distributed cash and we even informed the state government, but by the time a team reached the locations the job was done,” an EC official said.
Election commission sources also said that politicians in Maharashtra plan to distribute gifts to voters during the lengthy festival season in October. The total spending by the political parties in the polls is expected to be about Rs 2,000 crore, according to an unofficial estimate.
“It is very difficult to establish which party has distributed these goodies as the gifts don’t bear a party symbol – only the name of a party functionary who may not be contesting. In such a situation, electoral laws prohibit us from taking any action,” an election official said.