New Delhi: More than Rs 3,000 crore has been seized by the Election Commission (EC) during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The poll body has seized illicit liquor, drugs, unaccounted cash and a total of Rs 3,278.22 crore by the end of the fourth phase of general elections.

An official statement issued by the EC read, “A total of Rs 3278.22 crore worth of goods and cash seized from across the country till April 30. Cash – Rs 787.18 crore, Liquor – Rs 249.82 crore, Drugs/Narcotics – Rs 1215.5 crore, Precious metals – Rs 972.378 crore, other items – Rs 53.338 crore.”

As many as 97 expenditure observers in 72 parliamentary constituencies and 42 assembly constituencies were appointed by the poll body to keep a watch during the polls. These observers were appointed to implement its instructions regarding the election expenditure of candidates and for the seizure of unaccounted money, illicit liquor, drugs, and other inducements.

The EC had decided that each expenditure sensitive constituency would have two expenditure observers. In a bid to curb the abuse of money power, the EC allotted observers. The states which have a geographically difficult terrain have also been allotted a slightly larger number of expenditure observers so that there is better visibility and accessibility.

As per the instructions of the EC, the states deployed adequate resources in terms of Flying Squads, Static Surveillance Teams and Video Surveillance Teams in all the parliamentary constituencies and assembly constituencies.

According to the EC, a total of unaccounted cash amounting to over Rs 2,99,94,30,804 was seized during 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It is noted that the poll body imposes limits on the expenditure incurred by a candidate, but not political parties or for that matter on their election campaign.

Voting was held on April 29 for 72 seats across nine states including five seats in Bihar, one in Jammu and Kashmir, three in Jharkhand, six each in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, 13 each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, eight in West Bengal and 17 in Maharashtra. Voter turnout in the fourth phase of polling was 64.05 per cent.