ECI cracks down on money power: Rs.100 crore seizure each day since 1st March

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New Delhi, Apr 16, 2024, PIB

With General Elections 2024 underway, 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 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, that are under the special focus of the Commission. 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.Use of black money, over and above political financing and accurate disclosure thereof, may disturb the level playing field in favour of more resourceful party or candidate in specific geographies. The seizures are a critical part of ECI resolve to conduct the Lok Sabha elections free of inducements and electoral malpractices and to ensure a level playing field. CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar, while announcing the polls last month, underlined Money Power as one of the ‘4M’ challenges. On 12th April, Commission led by CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Shri Gyanesh Kumar and Shri Sukhbir Singh Sandhu reviewed all Central Observers deployed in Phase -1 of elections going to poll on 19th April.  Tightening, monitoring and checking were amongst the focus of deliberations to ensure 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 favour of smaller and less resourceful parties.In an incident in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, the Commission suspended the flying squad team leader for laxity in duty and selective checking of a cavalcade of a prominent leader. Similarly, officials checked vehicles in the convoy of CM of a state and also vehicle of a Dy CM in another state.  Commission has also taken strict action against approximately 106 government servants who have been found assisting politicians in campaigning, thereby violating the Code of Conduct and instructions.In the press briefing during announcement of Parliamentary elections, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar stressed in his presentation on strict compliance of BCAS instructions on surveillance and inspection of non-scheduled aircrafts and helicopters by Income tax, airport authorities and SPs of concerned districts, border agencies to keep close watch on international checkposts and GST authorities to closely monitor godowns, especially makeshift godowns meant for storing freebies. The Commission during reviews had always emphasized that there will be multi-pronged surveillance on all modes of transport - check posts and nakas for road transport, Coast guard for coastal routes and DMs and SPs alongside agencies for air routes including checking of helicopters and non-scheduled flights.