Not liquor, not cash, it rained gold this election season

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, cash and material worth Rs 88 crore were seized and in 2023 Assembly poll, it was Rs 388.
Image of gold bars used for representational purpose only
Image of gold bars used for representational purpose only(File Photo | Reuters)

BENGALURU: With just six days for the election Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections to end, the seizures have touched a record high.

According to the Election Seizures Management System (ESMS), cash and items worth Rs 5,94,01,07,567 have been seized till May 30 since the MCC was enforced.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, cash and material worth Rs 88 crore were seized and in 2023 Assembly poll, it was Rs 388.

According to the data from the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, on till May 9, two days after polling ended in Karnataka, the seizures of items and cash were worth Rs 5,58,01,45,697 of which the worth of precious metals was Rs 11,97,49,560.

According to election officials, this time a rise in trend of inducement was seen more in gold. According to the data, 472.22 kg of gold worth Rs 1,01,10,62,204 was seized. This is higher than what was seized ahead of the the 2019 polls (7.586 kg), and higher than 2023 elections (182.56 kg worth Rs 95.78 crore). “A trend in the rise of gold seizures started as soon as the MCC came into effect. From March 16 to 26, we seized 9.74 kg of gold worth Rs 5.47 crore. An increase in value by 18133.33% was seen. Till May 9, the seizures increased to Rs 1,01,10,62,204. While it is interesting, it is also a worrisome trend,” an official from the CEO Office told TNIE.

Seizures show that politicians seems to have used the precious metal to woo voters as its market value only keeps increasing. The gold seizures were more in number in cities like Bengaluru, Chikkamagaluru and Kolar. “Most of the seizures have been made through pawn brokers and other networks. Intelligence networks played a crucial role in the seizures this time. Everyone involved have been booked,” the official added.

“Also, technology and intelligence was used by the commercial taxes department, where they analysed and found the misuse of some certified business correspondents of banks and finance institutions by private agencies. These people had the limit to carry up to Rs 1 lakh in cash. The department found private entities using them to induce voters. The matter has been escalated to the Election Commission and an inquiry is being done. More than liquor, the inducement was cash and more than cash it was gold,” the official added.

According to the data, 1,47,30,448.18 litres of liquor worth Rs 1,79,79,72,618.72 and narcotics and drugs worth Rs 11,97,49,560 were seized till May 9. Also, freebies worth Rs 7,03,09,555 were seized by the Excise Department and freebies worth Rs 9,52,71,752 by Commercial Tax Department.

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