Mumbai: During the recent Karnataka assembly elections, more than Rs 87 crore in cash was seized by government authorities for violation of law, according to a statement issued by the Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka on May 11, 2018.

The cash seized from the date of announcement of assembly elections until May 11, 2018, was more than six times the Rs 14 crore seized during the 2013 assembly elections and three times the Rs 28 crore seized during the 2014 parliamentary elections in Karnataka.

The May 12, 2018, elections saw a 72.13% voter turnout, the highest ever in the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party after winning 104 of the 222 seats, followed by the Congress with 78 seats and the Janata Dal (Secular) with 37 seats, IndiaSpend reported on May 15, 2018.

Incidents of malpractice were prominent. Nearly 10,000 voter identity cards were found in a flat in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar on May 9, 2018, just three days before polling. Election in this constituency was then deferred to May 28, 2018.

Government agencies, including the Election Commission’s flying squads and static surveillance teams, income tax authorities and the police, also reported distribution of cash, jewelry, liquor, precious metals, drugs/narcotics, etc. to lure voters.

Liquor worth Rs 24 crore, precious metals such as gold and silver worth Rs 110 crore, drugs/narcotics worth Rs 39 lakh and other materials such as laptops and household goods were also seized from across Karnataka.

Rs 185 crore cash confiscated across five states during 2017 assembly elections

Nearly Rs 185 crore in cash was confiscated across five states--Punjab (Rs 58 crore), Goa (Rs 2.2 crore), Uttarakhand (Rs 3.4 crore), Uttar Pradesh (Rs 119 crore) and Manipur (Rs 2.2 crore)--in 2017, during the respective state legislative assembly elections, P.P. Chaudhary, minister of state for law and justice, told the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) in a reply on March 22, 2017.

Liquor worth Rs 83 crore was seized across the five states, while drugs/narcotics worth Rs 32 crore were seized, with Punjab accounting for 57% of all drugs/narcotics seized.

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country with 403 seats in the state assembly, accounted for 64% of cash and 78% of liquor seized (in terms of value), the minister’s reply stated.

As many as 7,103 police cases were registered for excise law violation and 4,579 cases for expenditure-related violations. Uttar Pradesh also accounted for the most cases of excise violation (47%) and expenditure violation (51%).

(Mallapur is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

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