Karnataka Polls: Cameras, Complete Transparency But Cash Seizures Big Concern, Says OP Rawat

Excellent arrangements have been made at the counting centres, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat tells NDTV

Chief Election Commissioner tells NDTV, cash seizures were 6.5 times more than 2013

New Delhi: On his big day the poll panel chief, OP Rawat has told NDTV that "excellent arrangements" have been made at the counting centres on Tuesday. There are seven cameras in every counting hall and complete transparency, OP Rawat, said. Polling stations will be randomly selected from all the constituencies and electronic voting machines will be tallied before declaring the results, Mr Rawat said adding that "in the strongrooms, central armed police personnel have been deployed."

NDTV has captured a buzzing counting centre in Bengaluru south, where cameras were allowed. In a first, viewers on live television saw the action packed counting room where officials were at their job. Understandably, only the strongrooms were out of bounds, with strict security around it.

Going by the convention, the chief election commissioner spoke to the media in Delhi just before counting started in Karnataka.

Cash seizures ahead of the polls are a big worry, said Mr Rawat. "Cash seizures were 6.5 times more than the last time... we will have to take some steps," the poll panel chief said. This year the number of flying squads has been increased and static surveillance teams removed to increase the uncertainty factor, which helps in cracking down on money distribution.

Karnataka is at number two after Uttar Pradesh on the list of poll-related confiscations as per the latest data released by the the Election Commission. From the time the model code of conduct kicked in to when the state went to polls, Rs 31.50 crore cash and unexplained jewellery worth Rs 5.83 crore have been seized by several agencies according to the poll panel statement on May 12. In the last assembly elections Rs 14 crore seizures were made in the state. 

Speaking about the thousands of voter cards recovered from a flat in Bengaluru before the polls, the Mr Rawat said he cannot say "what the purpose of the cards were" and an investigation is underway. Voting in Bengaluru's Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency, where nearly 10,000 voter cards were found has been deferred to May 28. 

The other contentious issue in Karnataka has been the fake videos and the way social media has been used. "Misuse of social media is a cause of concern... we are framing a policy on it, the chief election commissioner told NDTV.

Voting in the state for 222 out of the 224 assemblies took place on Saturday, May 12.
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