With the General Elections 2024 underway, the ECI is on track for the highest-ever seizures of inducements recorded in the 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections in the country.

Enforcement agencies have made a record seizure of over Rs. 4650 crores in the ECI’s resolute fight against money power even before the first phase of polling for the 18th Lok Sabha elections commences on Friday.

This marks a sharp increase over Rs 3475 crores seized during the entire Lok Sabha election in 2019. Significantly, 45% of the seizures are of drugs and narcotics, which are under the special focus of the Commission.

The Commission said authorities are making seizures worth Rs 100 crore every day since March 1 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. “This marks a sharp increase over Rs 3475 crores seized during the entire Lok Sabha elections in 2019,” it said.

Seizure of liquor in Kalaburagi District in Karnataka
Seizure of liquor in Kalaburagi District in Karnataka. (Photo: PIB)

Drugs and freebies saw the highest increase in seizures so far compared to the 2019 general elections. The poll panel has seized drugs worth Rs 2,068.8 crore, while in 2019 drugs worth Rs 1,279.9 crore were seized.

The release said the seizures are a part of EC’s resolve to curb electoral malpractices and to ensure a level playing field ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The seizures have been made possible by comprehensive planning, scaled-up collaboration, and unified deterrence action from agencies, proactive citizen participation, and optimal engagement of technology.

The use of black money, over and above political financing, and accurate disclosure thereof, may disturb the level playing field in favor of a more resourceful party or candidate in specific geographies. The seizures are a critical part of the ECI’s resolve to conduct the Lok Sabha elections free of inducements and electoral malpractices and to ensure a level playing field.

CEC Rajiv Kumar, while announcing the polls last month, underlined Money Power as one of the ‘4M’ challenges. On April 12th, the Commission led by CEC Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu reviewed all Central Observers deployed in Phase -1 of elections going to poll on 19 April. Tightening, monitoring, and checking were amongst the focus of deliberations to ensure an inducement-free electoral process.

The enhanced seizures reflect ECI’s unwavering commitment to monitor inducements and curb electoral malpractices for a ‘level playing field’, particularly in favor of smaller and less resourceful parties.

The Commission, it said, has also taken strict action against nearly 106 government servants who were found assisting politicians in campaigning, which is against various rules and ethics.

(More details here)

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