It will not be easy for political parties to woo Bacchus-lovers during these Lok Sabha elections, as the election commission will keep a tab on liquor sale in vends across the state.
To curb the influence of liquor in the elections, the EC has directed the excise department to conduct special inspection of the accounts of those vends whose sale varies significantly.
Following the EC’s instructions, the excise department has scrutinising the accounts of liquor vends across the state, and is comparing their latest accounts with previous ones.
Himachal Pradesh excise and tax commissioner Rajinder Singh Negi told HT that tax inspectors were manually inspecting all liquor vends in their respective districts. “There are more than 1,800 liquor vends across the state and tax inspectors are keeping strict vigil on the sale of liquor,” he said.
He added that in absence of an online system, manual checking of accounts of every liquor vend was the only way to find out the variation in sale. “We have limited staff and manual checking is only way to keep vigil,” he said, adding that production of liquor could also be monitored.
Assistant chief election commissioner Ashok Tomar said the EC was concerned about the use of liquor to entice voters during the elections. “The EC has nodal officers of three departments, including the police, income tax and excise. They will check variation in sale of liquor, financial accounts and wholesale demand for liquor. Retailers who record significant variation will be punished, if found guilty,” he added.
A senior official said the commission would, for the first time, send decoy customers to liquor vends to find out if illicit liquor is being supplied.
He added that nearly 370L illicit liquor was seized from various parts of the state during the previous assembly elections.
During the previous assembly elections in 2012, the EC, with the help of police, had seized more than 7,471L liquor.
District Liquor seized (in Litres)