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ECI on Track for Record-Breaking Inducement Seizures in Historic 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

ECI cracks down on money power: Rs.100 crore seizure each day since 1st March
Rs. 4650 crores seized even before polling begins: Higher than total seizures in 2019 polls
Commissions says action will continue to be strict and non-stop

With General Elections 2024 underway, ECI is on track for the highest ever seizures of inducements recorded in the 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections in the country. Enforcement Agencies have made a record seizure of over Rs. 4650 crores in ECI’s resolute fight against money power even before the first phase of polling for the 18thLok Sabha elections commences on Friday. This marks a sharp increase over Rs 3475 crores seized during the entire Lok Sabha election in 2019. Significantly, 45% of the seizures are of drugs and narcotics, that are under the special focus of the Commission. The seizures have been possible by comprehensive planning, scaled up collaboration and unified deterrence action from agencies, proactive citizen participation and optimal engagement of technology.

Use of black money, over and above political financing and accurate disclosure thereof, may disturb the level playing field in favour of more resourceful party or candidate in specific geographies. The seizures are a critical part of ECI resolve to conduct the Lok Sabha elections free of inducements and electoral malpractices and to ensure a level playing field. CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar, while announcing the polls last month, underlined Money Power as one of the ‘4M’ challenges. On 12th April, Commission led by CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Shri Gyanesh Kumar and Shri Sukhbir Singh Sandhu reviewed all Central Observers deployed in Phase -1 of elections going to poll on 19th April.  Tightening, monitoring and checking were amongst the focus of deliberations to ensure inducement-free electoral process. 

The enhanced seizures reflect ECI’s unwavering commitment to monitor inducements and curb electoral malpractices for a ‘level playing field’, particularly in favour of smaller and less resourceful parties.

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In an incident in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, the Commission suspended the flying squad team leader for laxity in duty and selective checking of a cavalcade of a prominent leader. Similarly, officials checked vehicles in the convoy of CM of a state and also vehicle of a Dy CM in another state.  Commission has also taken strict action against approximately 106 government servants who have been found assisting politicians in campaigning, thereby violating the Code of Conduct and instructions. 

In the press briefing during announcement of Parliamentary elections, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar stressed in his presentation on strict compliance of BCAS instructions on surveillance and inspection of non-scheduled aircrafts and helicopters by Income tax, airport authorities and SPs of concerned districts, border agencies to keep close watch on international checkposts and GST authorities to closely monitor godowns, especially makeshift godowns meant for storing freebies. The Commission during reviews had always emphasized that there will be multi-pronged surveillance on all modes of transport – check posts and nakas for road transport, Coast guard for coastal routes and DMs and SPs alongside agencies for air routes including checking of helicopters and non-scheduled flights. 

Details of State /UT wise and category wise seizures as on 13.04.2024 is placed at Annexure A. 

How has it been made possible? 

  1. Election Seizure Management System (ESMS)- breaking silos and bringing all enforcement agencies on one platform through use of technology is proving to be a game changer. With the introduction of technology in monitoring process, ESMS, an ECI in-house developed portal is proving to be a catalystThe novel innovation for real time reporting of interceptions and seizures, avoiding duplication of seizures was tested in the last round of Assembly elections. 

The portal facilitates digital trails and availability of seizure information at the click of a mouse enabling quick and timely reviews at all controlling levels. As per data, 6398 District nodal officers of various agencies, 734 state nodal officers, 59000 flying squads (FS) and Statics Surveillance Teams (SST) have been on boarded on ESMS platform for exhaustive real time monitoring and updates. All nodal officials have been trained on various aspects of using ESMS. The system took firm root during Assembly elections during 2023, when Rs 2014.26 crores was seized as against Rs 239.35 crores in the previous corresponding elections. With successful implementation and feedback from the field in the last round of assembly elections, it has been reviewed and made robust before implementation in ongoing elections. 

  1. Meticulous and exhaustive planninginvolvement of largest number of Enforcement Agencies: The largest number of enforcement agencies both from Centre and States have been assembled for collaborative effort among agencies. 
S. No. CohortAgencies
1Cash & Precious MetalsIncome Tax, state Police, RBI, SLBC, AAI, BCAS, State Civil Aviation, Enforcement Directorate, Dept. of Post, CISF
2LiquorState Police, State Excise, RPF
3NarcoticsState Police, NCB, ICG, DRI
4FreebiesCGST, SGST, State Transport Department, Customs, State Police
5Border and Other agenciesAssam Rifles, BSF, SSB, ITBP, CRPF, Forest Department, State Police
  1. Months prior to elections and more intensively from January 2024, senior officials from the Election Commission visited every State and Union territory to emphasize the importance of combating the influence of money in elections. Furthermore, districts were thoroughly reviewed, and discussions were held with Chief Secretaries, Directors General of Police (DGPs), and heads of enforcement agencies to assess their performance and encourage heightened vigilance against the misuse of financial resources during elections.   Field-level personnel are also subject to ongoing reviews by Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs), Observers, and District Electoral Officers (DEOs). Often, discoveries made by one agency ‘inform and guide’ the actions of others, leading to a unified and widespread deterrent effect. Commission has also emphasized the importance of joint teams comprising relevant agencies in inspecting inducements through various means—road, rail, sea, and air—during electoral visits to States/UTs. As a result, in January and February, the months preceding the official announcement, countrywide seizures totalling another Rs 7502 crores were recorded in form of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies. This brings total seizure to over Rs 12000 crores so far with six weeks still left in the election period.
  2. Increased focus on drug menace in society: Notably, there was a substantial focus on drug seizures, which accounted for approximately 75% of the total seizures in January and February 2024. Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar had emphasized the importance of agencies’ efforts in seizing drugs and narcotics during his visits to nodal agencies. He highlighted that besides the risk of dirty money being used to influence elections, drugs pose a serious social menace with the potential to harm communities, particularly youth. The Commission has also collaborated with the Directorate General of the Narcotics Control Bureau and its senior officials to identify key routes and corridors for drug trafficking and ensure effective countermeasures are in place. Over the past few years, significant seizures have been made during elections to State Assemblies, including during the operation of Model Code of Conduct in States like Gujarat, Punjab, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Mizoram.

Checking of vehicles by Static Surveillance Team in Arunachal Pradesh

Seizure of liquor in Kalaburagi District in Karnataka

  1. Identification of Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies: 123 Parliamentary Constituencies are marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for more focussed vigil. These constituencies had either had a history of distribution of inducements in previous elections or have inter-state and international borders with potential inflow of drugs, cash, and liquor. 
  2. Deployment of Expenditure Observers: Senior officers appointed as Expenditure Observers serve as the eyes and ears of the Commission for a fair and inducement free elections. A total of 656 Expenditure Observers have been assigned to Parliamentary Constituencies, while 125 are deployed in Assembly Constituencies across Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Sikkim. Special Expenditure Observers with a brilliant track record of domain expertise and experience with election processes have also been deployed in States/UTs. 
  3. Use of cVigil:   cVigil app of the Commission has also reinforced the expenditure monitoring process through complaints directly from citizens on distribution of any type of inducements. Since announcement of election schedule, a total of 3262 complaints have been received pertaining to distribution of cash, liquor and freebies. 
  4. No harassment to citizens:  At the beginning of the current elections, there were reports in the media about tourists undergoing unnecessary checks and hassles by ground-level teams. Taking this matter seriously, the Commission promptly issued an advisory to all Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) regarding the need for a careful and courteous approach when inspecting tourists and citizens. Additionally, the Commission directed the constituted ‘District Grievance Committees (DGC)’ to hold daily hearings at designated locations for the swift resolution of grievances related to seizures. CEOs and DEOs were instructed to ensure the effective functioning of these committees.

These measures serve as the cornerstone of a comprehensive expenditure monitoring process, resulting in increased seizures with least inconvenience to the public. With campaigning intensifying in the days ahead, the Commission stands prepared to enhance its vigilance to ensure an inducement-free electoral process in line with its commitment. 

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