Parties need to introspect over use of money power

New Delhi: Voicing serious concern over the growing influence of money power in elections, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi today appealed to political parties to introspect over it as it was playing havoc with the system.

Quraishi said the Commission has seized Rs 70 crore from the five states which went to polls over the past six weeks and out of this, a whopping Rs 60 crore was recovered from Tamil Nadu.

"It has become a matter of concern for us. We do feel that for every Rs one crore we seize, we are preventing the entry of Rs 40-50 crore," Quraishi said appealing to parties to introspect.

He said money power was playing "havoc" with the electoral system in the country and Election Commission is fine-tuning its means to deal effectively with the menace.

"It is not one party which is guilty. All parties are guilty. Some do it more, some do it less. They have to come together and introspect," he said.

Asked about the electoral reforms, the Chief Election Commissioner said six regional consultations have already been held and the seventh one is scheduled in Guwahati on June five.

"After that we will have a national meeting with the Prime Minister and other leaders attending it. We hope to go forward," he said.

Asked about apprehensions of violence in West Bengal after the results were out, Quraishi maintained that the Election Commission`s job is over after the counting.

However, he said, since there were apprehensions of violence in the state, the Commission has instructed the central forces to stay put in the state for ten more days.

"I agree we have those apprehensions…We have taken abundant precautions. The forces will continue to be in Bengal for ten more days. This is an unprecedented," he said expressing hope tempers should cool down by that time.

Quraishi also downplayed questions about misbehaviour of some security personnel during elections in Bengal, terming these as "stray" incidents. "Small complaints should not distract us," he said.

He also lauded the bureaucracy as a whole for delivering "perfect" elections.