VELLORE: The move by poll authorities to deter political parties from greasing the voters’ hands has instead put the small and local traders in the crosshairs of the design. Once the election dates are announced and the MCC comes into effect, and there is a cap on the amount of liquid cash that people can carry around, which is, Rs 50,000. If it exceeds the number, one has to produce the necessary documents to support their claim over the money.
Local traders, who are peeved at the initiative and the officials for their interruption, say that the election authorities are not able to stop the flow of money from politicians, which is the primary objective of special squads, but they easily lay hands over the hard-earned money of innocent people. The small traders particularly, do not carry any documents as they usually make money from retail sale of goods in small quantities.
On Thursday, for instance, a special squad in Tirupattur district seized 430 kg of appalam valued at Rs 58,893. In Ramanathapuram, a squad seized Rs 73,000 from a woman goat trader, Backiam, for not having any documents. Totally, a little over Rs 6.3 lakh was seized from four goat traders there. “Most of the retailers cannot have the documents to prove the source of money on hand, since their turnover/income is well under taxable limits. So they are forced to lose the amount,” rued RB Gnanavel, Vellore district president of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu.
And it’s not just the traders all the time but even others, the common people, who are inconvenienced when they carry cash without documents. They might have borrowed cash from someone or chit funds for various purposes like family expenses, function, repay of loans, etc. However, since they don’t possess documents for such informal transactions, they are forced to surrender the money to the poll squads.
We approached the district election officers seeking to raise the cap from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, but they said it can’t be done. We therefore appeal the ECI to consider the plea of traders, he said. ‘Ambur’ C Krishnan, Tirupattur district secretary of the association, said the restrictions of the ECI does not stop the politicians in any way but affects traders in many ways.
Cap on liquid cash
Rs 50,000 The amount of money that can be carried in cash without need for documents to prove its origin