BENGALURU: The quantity of liquor seized this time for violation of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct has risen by over 600 per cent from the 2013 assembly elections. Officials attribute this to better enforcement thanks to technology and good strategy. In the run-up to the 2013 assembly elections, 67,953 litres of liquor were seized. It was 44,924 litres before the 2014 Parliamentary elections. The quantity seized from March 27 to May 5 this year is 5,14,607.617 litres worth `23.8 crore, a 616.87 per cent increase from 2013.
Excise Commissioner Munish Moudgil said the increased haul is due to a couple of things which have been done differently this time. Earlier, if any part of a liquor consignment was found to have irregular labels, only those bottles would be seized. But now, the whole consignment is seized. “A couple of parties raised concerns that the irregularity might be due to oversight and since then we seize the entire consignment if more than 10 per cent of it is irregular,” he said.
In addition, every flying squad performs one raid every day. They are accompanied by two excise officials who do not know the location of the raid in advance. Moudgil said this ensures that the offenders can be booked by excise officials, and it also prevents the officials from tipping offenders beforehand.
Using WhatsApp for official communication has also helped, Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, Dr K G Jagadeesh said. He said, “If I get a tip-off about illegal liquor, I’ll put it on WhatsApp. Within 10 minutes the team could intercept it and provide an update via WhatsApp on the amount of liquor seized... But the real test will be on the last three days before the elections,” he said.This time, the Excise Department has shut 750 outlets in the state for violations. Only 120-130 outlets were shut down in 2013.