Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time when the first phase of the General Elections is still to be conducted (on April 19), the Election Commission of India (ECI) has so far seized cash and inducements worth Rs 4,658 crore across the country, making it the highest-ever seizure in the 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections. 

While Rajasthan has topped the ECI’s seizure list, Odisha’s position is 15th. During the period of March 1 to April 13, cash and inducements worth Rs 107.13 crore were seized in Odisha. 

The enforcement agencies have so far seized Rs 1.46 crore in cash, liquor worth Rs 16 crore, drugs valued at Rs 39 crore and gold and silver ornaments worth Rs 6.46 crore. 

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That apart, the joint teams of the ECI and the State Election Commission have also seized yet-to-be-distributed gift items worth around Rs 44 cr. 

Odisha Excise Commissioner, Narasingha Bhol said that the raids are being conducted to make the election free and fair. 

“During the last three months, we seized 6,44,000 litres of liquor. In the same period, we arrested 580 people for their involvement in peddling brown sugar and ganja,” said Bhol. 

RTI activist Prakash Das said, “The political parties are giving away gift items and money to voters because they are apprehensive of their failure.”

The cause of concern is that drugs worth Rs 2,069 crore have been seized across the nation in the last one-and-a-half months while the drugs seized during the corresponding period in the 2019 General Elections was Rs 1,280 crore. 

Similarly, liquor, ornaments and gift items worth Rs 490 crore, Rs 562 crore and Rs 1,142 crore were seized. 

On the other hand, not a single rupee has so far been seized in Nagaland, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.  

At the same time, common people have so far lodged 3,262 related complaints through cVIGIL App. 

“It is a good thing that seizure has been made by involving different agencies. It will have a positive impact on elections,” said Ranjan Mohanty, convenor of Election Watch.

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