*Seizure of liquor in Bengaluru & heavy cash seized in Bangarapet AC in Kolar district
The Election Commission of India’s thrust on “inducement-free” elections from the past few elections, has continued and led to sustained efforts for election expenditure monitoring in the poll-going state of Karnataka. The recorded seizures in the State mark a significant 4.5 times increase as compared to Assembly Election in 2018. Strict vigil, extensive monitoring, coordination with neighboring states and inter-agency coordination has led to checking flow and distribution of inducements in Karnataka this time. Details of seizures already done so far (as on 08.05.2023) in Karnataka are as follows:
During the visit to Karnataka in the 2nd week of March, the Commission has exhaustively reviewed the preparations which included extensive reviews and preparations of coordinated functioning of enforcement agencies, both Central and State. The Commission also had detailed reviews of district heads and SPs of the above poll-going states. While announcing the schedule for Karnataka Assembly Elections, 2023, Chief Election Commissioner, Sh. Rajiv Kumar stressed on increased vigil and zero tolerance on distribution of inducements during the electoral process. He remarked that the Commission has significantly raised the bar for ensuring inducement free elections and the continuum of stepping up of efforts and increase in seizures witnessed during recently held Assembly Elections in five States, would continue.
As a drive, the results are encouraging with Karnataka witnessing seizures of Rs. 375.61 crore during enforcement of Model Code of Conduct period which is nearly 4.5 times the seizures made in Assembly Elections, 2018. Additionally, from the date of visit of Commission in the second week of March, 2023 till date of announcement of elections, seizures of Rs. 83.78 crores were also made by various enforcement agencies. Enforcement Directorate has also attached assets amounting to Rs. 288 Crores after the imposition of MCC.
Notable hauls include seizure of Rs 4.04 Crores of cash in Bangarapet AC in Kolar District, raid of lab illegally manufacturing Alprozolam in Hyderabad by intelligence gathered and trail mapping done by NCB; 100 kg ganja seized in Bidar district; significant liquor seizures have been made by all the districts. Another striking feature of expenditure monitoring has been huge seizures of freebies. Sarees and food kits have been seized from Kalburgi, Chimanglur and other districts. Huge number of pressure cookers and kitchen appliances were also seized from Bailhongal and Kunigal and other ACs.
The extensive monitoring process started months back before the announcement of elections and includes host of activities like thorough review of preparation of different stakeholders including enforcement agencies, DEOs/SPs, appointment of experienced officers as Expenditure Observers, sensitizing and inter-agency coordination & monitoring and adequate availability of field level teams. 146 Expenditure Observers were deployed and 81 Assembly Constituencies were marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for stricter vigil.
The Commission also reviewed law and order situation and inter-state vigil through border check posts of poll-going Karnataka and neighboring states of Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu on May 1st, 2023. Review was attended by Chief Secretaries, DGPs, Excise Commissioners and regional Heads of prominent enforcement agencies of all these bordering States. On the occasion, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar again stressed on proper manning and monitoring of specifically the 185 check posts in border districts. At the review meeting, EC Shri Anup Chandra Pandey had also emphasized scope of improvement in illicit liquor seizures, action against kingpins, preventing stockpiling of liquor. EC Shri Arun Goel had however asked the officials to tighten the vigilance without causing inconvenience to the public and ensure a thorough follow up post seizure operations. Seizure of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies from such border check-posts have subsequently been reported to be more than Rs. 70 Crores.
The Enforcement Agencies have been actively involved in deterrent activities. Seizures & attachments have been by all stakeholder agencies including State Police, Income Tax, Commercial Tax, ED, RPF, GRP, CISF, NCB, CISF and DRI. Not only are the agencies involved in enforcement activities but a few are also making outreach efforts for creating awareness amongst citizens for inducement free and ethical elections.