February 21, 2017 6:45:51 pm
Since the Election Commission announced dates for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on January 4 this year, the poll body has so far seized ₹110.5 crore in cash and over 18.68 lakh litres of alcohol allegedly meant to lure voters in the state. Despite demonetisation and close monitoring of cash movement in the course of remonetisation, the amounts of seizures has been astonishing. The figures are up massively compared to the 2012 elections.
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In 2012, ₹ 37.46 crore in cash was seized in Uttar Pradesh. The state registered 3,507 FIRs during the election period in offences related to seizure of arms, cash, liquor and general violation of model code of conduct. A total 3.56 lakh litres of liquor was seized that was meant to lure voters.
The current seizures have been done till third phase of the polling of the seven-phase election in the state. On Sunday, a single seizure trumped the previous election’s record. Cash amounting ₹38.40 crore and 2.04 lakh litres of liquor were seized. The liquor’s estimated value was ₹5.72 crore. The seizure was done from the areas where third phase polling was to take place.
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Voting for the remaining four phases will take place on February 23, 27, and March 4 and 8. According to reports, the state election commission had formed 208 flying squads and 237 static surveillance teams to clamp down on use of cash and liquor to lure voters.
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According to a report in PTI, Vijay Dev, deputy election commissioner of the state, said 208 flying squads and 237 static surveillance teams were formed to ensure that cash and liquor are not used to lure voters. The poll body also apprehended several people and at least 2,690 non-bailable warrants have been issued. At least 1,92,001 licensed weapons have also been taken in by the election commission.
The scale of seizures raises questions about the effectiveness of the Centre to prevent buying of votes. Even in times of note crunch, cash is available in abundance and is being used for electoral gains.
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