Seizures of poll-related contraband in the run-up to the Gujarat Assembly elections have been more than tenfold higher than they were in 2017, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said here on the eve of the first phase of elections in the State.
The total seizures before the 2017 Assembly elections were ₹27.21 crore. This time, the seizure chart up to November 29 records seizures of ₹290.24 crore, a jump of 10.66 times, the Commission said.
One significant ongoing seizure still underway in Vadodara (Rural) and Vadodara City is a heavy consignment of drugs. After the identification of two mephedrone drug manufacturing units, about 143 kg of the synthetic drug worth an estimated ₹478 crore has been seized.
According to the ECI, ₹27.07 crore in cash, liquor worth ₹14.88 crore, narcotics worth ₹61.96 crore, precious metals valued at ₹15.79 crore and freebies worth ₹171.24 crore have so far been seized in the State.
If the value of the 143 kg drug seizure is added to this, the total contraband confiscated in the poll-bound State would record a jump of 28 times compared to the previous Assembly elections, the ECI said.
“Behind the stupendous rise in seizure figures has been the comprehensive strategy, detailed planning and rigorous follow-ups by the Election Commission,” the ECI stated.
Strong ECI measures
When announcing the voting dates for these polls, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar had stressed the importance of inducement-free elections and cited the significant amount of seizures made in the Himachal Pradesh polls.
The CEC had then strongly issued directions regarding effective and strong measures to be taken until polling day to curb the cross-border movement of cash, liquor, freebies from the border districts of neighbouring States.
He had also directed Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police to do a State-wise analysis of seizures and demanded that action against illicit liquor and narcotics be taken at the originating place of such contraband.