Massive seizure of drugs reflects tight expenditure vigil in Gujarat Assembly Elections 2022

IAS Prelims 2023


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The meticulous planning, exhaustive reviews and expenditure monitoring through a host of enforcement agencies by Election Commission of India has produced stellar results leading to record seizures in the ongoing Assembly elections in the State of Gujarat.  One significant ongoing seizure process of heavy consignment of drugs is led by a team of officers of ATS Gujarat which is carrying out an operation in Vadodara (Rural) and Vadodara City. The team has identified 2-mephedrone drug manufacturing units and unearthed about 143kg of mephedrone (synthetic drug) worth about Rs 478 Crores. They have detained 5 persons from Nadiad and Vadodara and a criminal case is being registered in ATS Police Station, Ahmedabad under relevant sections of the NDPS Act, 1985. The operation is in progress and complete details will be made available once the operation is completed.

Details of seizures already done so far (as on 29.11.2022) in the State of Gujarat is given below:

State

Cash

Liquor

Drugs

Precious metals

Freebies

Total Seizure

 

(Rs. Crore)

Quantity (Litres)

Value (Rs. Crore)

Value (Rs. Crore)

Value (Rs. Crore)

Value (Rs. Crore)

(Rs. Crore)

Gujarat

27.07

411851.23

14.88

61.96 (apart from the above-mentioned on-going drug seizure)

15.79

171.24

290.94

The total seizures in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly Election were Rs 27.21 crores. Going by seizure chart as on 29.11.2022 which marks total seizures of Rs 290.24 crores, there is a massive jump in the amount of seizures which is 10.66 times of seizures in 2017. Add to it, the ongoing seizure of drugs, it becomes whopping 28 times. Behind the stupendous rise in seizure figures has been the comprehensive strategy, detailed planning and rigorous follow-ups by the Election Commission.

       Seized liquor at Tharad Police Station in Banaskantha District

On the occasion of announcement of dates for Gujarat Assembly Election 2022, Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar stressed on inducement-free elections and cited the significant amount of seizures made in Himachal Pradesh. On 23rd November, 2022, Commission had interacted with Chief Secretaries, DGPs, Excise Commissioners, DG (Income Tax) and other senior officers of Gujarat and its neighbouring States and UTs- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. This was held to review law and order situation and coordinated participation for conduct of free, fair and peaceful polls. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar strongly directed effective and strong measures to be taken till the poll day to curb cross-border movement of cash, liquor, freebies from neighbouring districts of border states. He also directed Chief Secretaries and DGPs to do state-wise analysis of seizures and take appropriate action. The Commission also conveyed to ensure action on illicit liquor and narcotics at the originating place.

Preparations for tight monitoring gained momentum when the ECI team led by CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar and EC Shri Anup Chandra Pandey visited Gujarat in September to review electoral preparedness. Dedicated teams also visited various regions of the State in October to oversee preparations for conduct of Assembly Elections.  The Commission, during its visit, took extensive reviews of enforcement agencies, district authorities and Police Nodal Officers to emphasize close and effective monitoring of items meant for influencing voters.

Seizure of liquor being transported in Milk Van seized by Ramol Police Station in Ahmedabad

The process of effective expenditure monitoring starts months before the announcement of elections and includes host of activities like appointment of experienced officers as Expenditure Observers, sensitizing and reviewing enforcement agencies for more coordinated and comprehensive monitoring, marking of expenditure sensitive constituencies, ensuring planning of adequate availability of field level teams in the monitoring process and regular follow-ups with DEOs/SPs with a view to curb role of money-power in vitiating elections. Visits by the Commission to review the electoral preparedness along with the review of Central Observers and DEOs, SPs has already been taken for comprehensive monitoring. 

For effective monitoring to curb money power in General Elections to the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat, Election Commission of India has also deployed 69 Expenditure Observers. 27 Assembly Constituencies have been marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for more closure monitoring in these constituencies. The Commission has also deployed Special Expenditure Observer, Sh. B. Murali Kumar, 1983 Batch retd. IRS Officer who has formidable domain expertise, to oversee the preparations and coordinate with Enforcement agencies.

On a similar note, seizures in Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections, 2022 where polling concluded on November 12, saw more than 500% increase over figures of 2017 Assembly Elections. As compared to Rs 9.03 crores worth of seizures in 2017 Assembly Elections, the seizures in 2022 rose to Rs 57.24 crores. Even in on-going bye-elections, 2022 in 1 Parliamentary Constituency and 6 Assembly Constituencies in States of Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, significant seizures of Rs.5.40 Crores has been made. The efforts on close monitoring will further continue in the poll- going States till completion of the ongoing elections and the figures of seizure are expected to rise further.

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RP



Source PIB