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Assembly Elections 2021 | Cash, other freebies seizures top ₹1,000 crore

Officials count cash seized at Tiruchi during Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections on March 24, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Election Commission on Friday said it had seized cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and other freebies worth ₹1,001.43 crore meant for distribution to voters in the ongoing Assembly elections.

“Seizures crossed ₹1,000 crore for the first time in any Assembly electoral process,” the EC said in a statement.

Of the total seizures as on Thursday in Assam, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and the States where byelections are being conducted, Tamil Nadu topped the tally with seizures of ₹446.28 crore.

It was followed by ₹300.11 crore in West Bengal, ₹122.34 crore in Assam, ₹84.91 crore in Kerala and ₹36.95 crore in Puducherry. A total of ₹10.84 crore was seized in connection with the various by-polls. In 2016 for the five Assembly elections, the total seizures had been ₹225.77 crore.

When asked about FIRs filed against those involved and details of political parties and individuals involved, an EC spokesperson did not respond.

According to Association for Democratic Reforms founder Jagdeep S. Chhokar, the EC may not necessarily know which parties are responsible. When the EC catches cash or other freebies being transported, they seize the items.

“They should confiscate the vehicles and file FIRs,” he said.

Out of the total cash of ₹344.85 crore seized, ₹236.69 crore was from Tamil Nadu, ₹50.71 crore from West Bengal, ₹27.09 crore from Assam, ₹22.88 crore from Kerala and ₹5.52 crore from Puducherry. West Bengal and Assam accounted for the majority of liquor seized, with ₹30.11 crore and ₹41.97 crore of the total liquor worth ₹85.01 crore seized respectively.

Out of the ₹161.60 crore worth of drugs seized, ₹118.83 crore was from West Bengal, with Assam in second place with ₹34.41 crore. Tamil Nadu accounted for most of the precious metals seized worth ₹176.46 crore out of the total of ₹270.80 crore, while Kerala accounted for ₹50.86 crore, a distant second.

“The stupendous rise in seizure figures is because of better preparedness and multi-pronged strategy of the Commission... For effective monitoring, Commission has appointed five Special Expenditure Observers,” the EC said.

It added that the drive against the “menace of money power” would continue for the remaining phases of the elections. While polling in the other States and UT is complete, West Bengal is set to have four more phases before votes in all the Assembly elections are counted on May 2.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 3:16:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/assembly-elections-2021-cash-other-freebies-seizures-top-1000-crore/article34339110.ece

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