As India goes to General Elections this week (April 19, phase 1), the poll panel Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it is on track for the highest-ever seizures of inducements recorded in the 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections in the country. According to the poll body analysis, it has made a record seizure of over ₹4,650 crore so far, with over ₹100 crore seizures each day since March 1, 2024.

The seizure marks a sharp increase from over ₹3,475 crore during the entire Lok Sabha election in the year 2019. The EC says 45% of the seizures are of "drugs and narcotics".

"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," the poll body says in a statement, adding that "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".

The EC data shows the seizures comprised ₹395.39 crore worth of cash, ₹489.3 crore worth of liquor, ₹2,068.8 crore worth of drugs, ₹521.1 crore worth of precious metals and ₹1,142.49 crore worth of freebies.

The seizures -- during March 1, 2024, and March 13, 2024 -- in all these categories, except cash, surpassed the numbers during the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.

The General Elections 2019 data shows the EC had confiscated cash worth ₹844 crore during the elections, while ₹304.6 crore worth of liquor, ₹1,279.9 crore worth of drugs, ₹987.11 crore worth of precious metals and ₹1,142.49 crore worth of freebies.

The Election Commission (EC) data shows this time, the top three states with maximum seizures are Rajasthan (₹778.5 crore), Gujarat (₹605 crore), and Tamil Nadu (₹460 crore).

"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," the EC says.

How has this been possible? The EC says its online platform Election Seizure Management System (ESMS) has been specifically instrumental in making these seizures. As per data, 6,398 district nodal officers of various agencies, 734 state nodal officers, 59,000 flying squads (FS) and statics surveillance teams (SST) have been onboarded on the ESMS platform for exhaustive real-time monitoring and updates.

The Election Commission says in January and February 2024, the months preceding the official announcement, countrywide seizures totalling another ₹7,502 crore were recorded in the form of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies. This means the ECI has seized around items, including cash, worth ₹12,000 crore so far.

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