Bengaluru: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday said that total seizures of Rs 375 crore was made during the run-up to the May 10 Karnataka Assembly polls, while the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets worth Rs 288 crore after the imposition of Model Code of Conduct in the southern state.
The poll panel made the revelations a day after the campaigning ended on May 8. Polling in Karnataka is scheduled on May 10 and counting of votes will take place on May 13.
According to the poll panel, its 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,” it said.
It pointed out that strict vigil, extensive monitoring, coordination with neighbouring states and inter-agency coordination has led to checking flow and distribution of inducements in Karnataka this time.
The poll panel said that it seized cash to the tune of Rs 147.46 crore, and liquor worth Rs 83.66 crore.
It further said that drugs valued at Rs 23.6 crore, precious metals worth Rs 96.6 crore and freebies worth Rs 24.21 crore.
The EC said, “In 2023, it made seizures totalling more than Rs 375 crore, which is 4.5 times more as compared to Rs 83.93 crore in 2018 Assembly elections.”
It said that 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 crore were also made by various enforcement agencies in the poll-bound state.
The EC said, “The ED has also attached assets amounting to Rs 288 crore after the imposition of MCC.”
It also said that notable hauls include seizure of Rs 4.04 crore 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,” it said.
The EC highlighted how extensive monitoring process started in Karnataka months back before the announcement of elections that included 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 and monitoring and adequate availability of field level teams.
The panel had deployed 146 Expenditure Observers and 81 Assembly Constituencies were marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for stricter vigil.
The Commission had also reviewed law and order situation and inter-state vigil through border check posts of poll-going Karnataka and neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu on May 1.
“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 Rajiv Kumar had stressed on proper manning and monitoring of specifically the 185 check posts in the border districts.
At the review meeting, EC Anup Chandra Pandey had also emphasized scope of improvement in illicit liquor seizures, action against kingpins, preventing stockpiling of liquor. EC 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,” it said.
Seizure of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies from such border check-posts have subsequently been reported to be more than Rs 70 crore, the Commission said.