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EC Makes Record Seizure before an Election

EC Makes Record Seizure before an Election

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NEW DELHI, Apr 15: The Election Commission (EC) on Monday said it was on track to seize the largest amount of inducements, including drugs and cash during an election in the last 75 years.

Even before polling begins for the Lok Sabha elections on April 19, it has already seized ₹4,650 crore, an amount which is higher than that recovered in the 2019 elections. During the 2019 general elections, ₹3,475 crore had been recovered by the EC.

The commission said in a statement that the ₹4,650 crore seized included drugs worth ₹2,069 crore, cash amounting to over ₹395 crore and liquor worth more than ₹489 crore. Since March 1, the poll body was seizing goods worth ₹100 crore every day. Approximately, 75% of the total seizures in January and February were of drugs.

“The seizures have been possible by comprehensive planning, scaled up collaboration and unified deterrence action from agencies, proactive citizen participation and optimal engagement of technology,” the statement said.

The EC said use of black money and over and above political financing could disturb the level playing field in favour of the more resourceful party or candidate. The seizures were a critical part of its resolve to hold the Lok Sabha elections free of inducements and electoral malpractices and to ensure a level playing field.

The EC sources also said checking or searching of helicopters, such as in the case of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and the Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee were part of standard instructions to ensure inducement-free polls.

In the run-up to the polls, all district magistrates, Superintendents of Police and enforcement agencies were told to keep a strict watch on airfields and helipads by the EC. Such searches are taking place on airfields, both public and private, across the country to ensure inducements are not ferried by air, the sources added.

Election officials conducted checks in a helicopter carrying Mr Gandhi in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. The flying squad officials conducted the search after the helicopter landed. Mr Gandhi was on his way to his parliamentary constituency of Wayanad in Kerala from where he is seeking a second successive term.

The Trinamool Congress had on Sunday complained to the poll body about the Income Tax department’s search of a helicopter that was to be used by party leader Mr Abhishek Banerjee to go to Haldia.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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