BENGALURU: With each passing election year, there has been a marked increase in cash, liquor and gift items seized by the Election Commission (EC) in Karnataka. While authorities point out that better enforcement is leading to a crackdown in these cases, political analysts and officials says this is just the tip of iceberg, as more money is flowing to political parties from various means as black money.
This year, with the code of conduct coming into effect just a few days back, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Karnataka has seized 73,111.49 litres of liquor worth `4.05 crore and booked 298 heinous cases, 204 cases for Breach of License Conditions and 821 cases under Section 15 (a) of the Karnataka Excise Act, 1965. Also, 102 different types of vehicles have been seized.
According to data provided by the CEO of Karnataka, Sanjiv Kumar, there has been an increase in cash, liquor and gift flow this time by as much as five to ten times, compared to previous election seasons.
According to sources from the CEO’s office, there has been an increase in enforcement from their side too. “What we seize is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot goes unnoticed or unaccounted for,’’ sources said.
Muzaffar H Assadi, professor of Political Science, University of Mysuru, said the EC fixes `70 lakh per candidate. But in reality, the actual expenditure will be anywhere between `15 crore to `20 crore. “Distributing money, liquor or gifts play a vital role in victory of a candidate. There is competitive corruption - if a candidate from one party gives `1,000, his opponent will distribute double the amount,” he said. He also said white money channelled through various corporates gets distributed to few voters.
Another political analyst, Prof Harish Ramaswamy, said that candidates contesting zilla panchayat elections spend much more than the limit set by the EC. “It’s not just the candidates or the system that is corrupt, even the voters have become corrupt. Earlier, someone getting `500 would be satisfied, but now, they demand `2,000 or `5,000,” he added.