As much as Rs 677 crore in cash and other assets has been seized across the country ahead of the polls, the Election Commission said in a press briefing today. Tamil Nadu topped the list of offending states, with the authorities recording seizures of Rs 130 crore in gold and other assets.
Andhra Pradesh came a close second, with seizures amounting to Rs 128 crore, while recoveries in Uttar Pradesh -- the most politically significant state in the country -- stood at Rs 120 crore. The highest amount of seized goods, in this case, was liquor.
Figures quoted by the Election Commission showed that drugs continue to be a major influencer in Punjab, with narcotics accounting for a major portion of the Rs 104-crore seizures being reported from the border state. Karnataka came fifth on the list, with seizures worth Rs 33 crore.
The Election Commission said in a press release that it has appointed 266 expenditure observers across 188 parliamentary constituencies to ensure that candidates adhere to rules related to poll spending and assist enforcement teams in tackling issues related to unaccounted money, illicit liquor, drugs and other inducements. Adequate resources in terms of flying squads, static surveillance teams and video surveillance teams have also been put in place in all parliamentary and assembly constituencies, it added.
The Election Commission has taken serious note of DMK legislator A Radhakrishnan, who was seen distributing money to women performing a religious ritual at a private event in Tamil Nadu's Thuthukodi recently. A case has been registered against the politician and seven others under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the release added.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the votes will be counted on May 23. Assembly elections will also be held in a few states at the same time.