Huge push by ECI to curb menace of money power during ongoing elections in States of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry

New Delhi: Record Seizures worth Rs. 331 crores have been made in Expenditure Monitoring Process in ongoing Assembly Elections, 2021 in States of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry. Seizures already surpass the total seizures made in Assembly Elections to these State/UT in 2016 and significant point is that record seizures have been made even though polling is yet to start. Details of record seizures already done so far (as on 16th March 2021) – compared to total of Rs 225.77 cr in AE 2016 is put as under:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Figures in Rs Crores)

States Cash

 

Liquor

(worth Rs crores)

Drugs                        (worth Rs crores) Freebies Precious Metals Total
Assam 11.73 17.25 27.09 4.87 2.82 63.75
Puducherry 2.32 0.26 0.15 0.14 2.85 5.72
Tamil Nadu 50.86 1.32 0.35 14.06 61.04 127.64
Kerala 5.46 0.38 0.68 0.04 15.23 21.77
West Bengal 19.11 9.72 47.40 29.42 6.93 112.59
Total  89.48 28.93 75.67 48.52 88.87 331.47

 

Total seizures in the above poll bound States/UT in Assembly Elections 2016: Rs 225.77 crores

For effective monitoring to curb black money in General Election to Legislative Assemblies of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry, Election Commission of India has deployed 295 Expenditure Observers. Commission has also appointed five Special Expenditure Observers; Ms. Madhu Mahajan, ex-IRS(IT):1982 and Sh. B. R Balakrishnan, ex-IRS(IT):1983 (both for Tamil Nadu and UT of Puducherry), Sri B.Murali Kumar, ex-IRS, 1983 batch  (for West Bengal), Ms. Neena Nigam, ex-IRS, 1983 batch (for Assam) and Sri Pushpinder Singh Puniha, ex-IRS, 1985 batch (for Kerala). These officers having formidable domain expertise and impeccable track record are deputed for more effective election expenditure monitoring.  After due assessment, 259 Assembly Constituencies have been marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for more focussed vigil.

On expenditure monitoring, Commission has convened various meetings with senior officials of Enforcement Agencies of poll bound States and UT. Seeking the importance of central enforcement agencies in election expenditure monitoring process, Commission also convened a meeting of Revenue Secretary, Chairman CBDT, Chairman CBIC and Director FIU-Ind on 02.03.2021.

Distributing cash and gifts during electoral process is not permitted under the law, e.g., distribution of money, liquor, or any other item disbursed and given to the electors with the intent to influence them. This expenditure comes under the definition of “bribery” which is an offence both under 171B of IPC and under R.P. Act, 1951. The expenditure on such items is illegal. With the drive for curbing inducements which vitiate electoral process intensifying, the seizure figures are expected to rise further.