Lok Sabha elections: It is raining cash, alcohol, drugs, freebies in Goa | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Lok Sabha elections: It is raining cash, alcohol, drugs, freebies in Goa

Apr 20, 2024 11:16 AM IST

Between March 1 and April 13, cash totalling ₹15.64 crore, more than 1 lakh litres of alcohol, precious metal worth ₹3.78 crore have been seized.

Barely three weeks before voting on May 7, it is raining cash, drugs, alcohol and freebies in Goa. In the past six weeks (March 1-April 13, 2024) more than one lakh litres of alcohol, 15.64 crore in cash, drugs worth 3.23 crore and freebies adding up to 1.18 crore has been seized in Goa by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The first phase of Lok Sabha elections concluded on April 19.(Bloomberg)
The first phase of Lok Sabha elections concluded on April 19.(Bloomberg)

Being the country’s smallest state with only two parliamentary seats (North Goa & South Goa), the seizures in Goa are proportionately higher compared to other states - during the same period, the cash seizure in Gujarat has been 6.5 crore, 11.28 crore in National Capital Territory Delhi, 6.1 crore in Uttarakhand, and 1.47 crore in Odisha. In stark contrast, no cash, not even a penny, has been seized in Nagaland, Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.

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The total drug haul of 3.23 crore during the past six weeks in Goa, however, has been much lower compared to 485 crore in Gujarat, 213 crore in Maharashtra, 280 crore in Punjab and 293 crore in Tamil Nadu, according to the ECI’s Election Seizure Management System (ESMS), an ECI in-house developed portal for real-time reporting of interceptions and seizures, a system that was first tested in the last round of Assembly elections.

Also read: Goa election office red-flags mining lease with Vedanta, refers case to ECI

While 101,446 litres of alcohol has been seized in Goa, interestingly, Gujarat and Bihar, both dry states, have recorded seizure of 760,062 litres and 845,758 litres, respectively.

Local Goan newspapers are agog with news about seizures, especially of alcohol as Goa has become a conduit for illegal alcohol transportation to neighbouring states. Several seizures of liquor have been reported of liquor originating from Goa in the border areas by officials of the Karnataka and Maharashtra administrations.

Precious metals have also been changing hands in Goa. Though specific details about the type of precious metal have not been mentioned by ESMS, a haul worth 3.8 crore has been seized in the past six weeks.

In Goa, a special committee has been formed to oversee release of cash seized during Election Code of Conduct. Comprising government officials, the committee is tasked with examining each case of cash seizure made by police, the static surveillance team (SST), or flying squad. The committee will intervene where no FIR/complaint has been filed against the seizure or where the seizure is unrelated to any candidate, political party, or election campaign. The District Collector has also announced that individuals carrying more than 50,000 in cash are required to possess valid documentation.

According to ESMS, in this Lok Sabha election, ECI is on track for the highest ever seizures of inducements recorded in the 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections in the country. Rs. 4,650 crores have been seized even before polling has begun which is much higher than the total seizures in 2019 polls. Between March 1 and April 13, 2024, freebies worth 1,142.49 crores have been seized from across the country and the total drug haul is valued at 2,068.85 crore. In all, across India, 35,829,924.75 litres of alcohol has been seized in the past 6 weeks.

Also read: Voting in Goa for two Lok Sabha seats on May 7

In January and February this year, the months preceding the official announcement of election schedule, countrywide seizures totalling 7,502 crores were recorded in form of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies.

To enforce the Election Code of Conduct, the ECI has also identified 123 Expenditure Sensitive Parliamentary Constituencies for more focussed vigil. These constituencies had either had a history of distribution of inducements in previous elections or have inter-state and international borders with potential inflow of drugs, cash, and liquor. According to ESMS, 6,398 District nodal officers of various agencies, 734 state nodal officers, 59,000 flying squads (FS) and Statics Surveillance Teams (SST) have been onboarded on ESMS platform for exhaustive real-time monitoring and updates. The system took firm root during the 2023 Assembly elections when 2,014.26 crores was seized as against 239.35 crores in the previous corresponding elections.

The ECI has also launched cVigil app to aid the expenditure monitoring process through complaints directly from citizens on distribution of any type of inducements. Since the announcement of the election schedule, a total of 3,262 complaints have been received pertaining to distribution of cash, liquor and freebies.

BJP candidate declares combined net worth of 1,400 crore

Pallavi Dempo, the BJP candidate for South Goa parliamentary constituency has declared a combined net worth (with her husband Shrinivas) of approximately 1,400 crore. This makes her the richest candidate to have ever contested any polls in Goa. In her 119-page affidavit, Pallavi Dempo has declared her net worth of 255.44 crore that includes 217.11 crore in bonds, around 12.92 crore in savings, 2.54 crore worth of vehicles, approximately 5.69 crore in gold, and other items valued at around 9.75 crore.

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