New Delhi: Tamil Nadu has topped the list of states from where the maximum amount of cash, liquor and narcotics have been recovered by the Election Commission (EC) during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
According to information provided by the EC, as on 10 May, in all, the EC has seized cash, liquor, narcotics and precious metals worth Rs 3,400 crore, which is more than double the value of these items recovered during the 2014 elections. And this when polling for 20% of the total Lok Sabha seats is yet to take place.
During the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the EC had confiscated cash and other items worth Rs 1,200 crore. For the current elections, two more heads—precious metal like gold and freebies/other items—have also been added under which the seizures are being made.
According to the latest information, the total cash seizure so far (in this election) is Rs 822.17 crore; total liquor seizure Rs 281.79 crore; drugs/narcotics seizure Rs 1,257.18 crore; precious metal seizure Rs 981.95 crore; and total freebies’/other items’ seizure Rs 56.74 crore.
Tamil Nadu has topped the list of states from where maximum value seizures (Rs 949.03 crore) have been made, followed by Gujarat (Rs 551.87 crore) and Delhi (Rs 420.94 crore). Mizoram and Lakshadweep are the two states from where no cash has been recovered. In Tamil Nadu, the total cash seizure was Rs 227.13 crore.
Political parties as well as independent candidates use ambulances and other vehicles fitted with flashing lights to carry cash and other items to lure voters. EC observers, surveillance teams and enforcement agencies raid airports, highways, railways stations, hotels and farm houses if there is any suspicion of illegal money. Accepting money to vote or not to vote for a candidate is a punishable offence with prison terms, fines or both.
The use of money in elections has increased in the last few years. A Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Media Studies (CMS), has estimated that all political parties in 2019 would together spend over Rs 60,000 crore.