Assembly polls in 5 states: EC seizes freebies worth Rs 1760 cr

Acting on complaints and inputs by the local poll machinery, the EC issued show cause notices and advisories to top politicians to adhere to the provisions of the model code.

The Election Commission (EC) cracked its whip on several occasions to ensure a level playing field for all parties in the five states where assembly polls are being held even as authorities seized freebies, drugs, cash and liquor worth over Rs 1766 crore aimed at alluring voters.

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Telangana accounted for seizures worth Rs 745 crore including freebies cash, gold and liquor.

Acting on complaints and inputs by the local poll machinery, the EC issued show cause notices and advisories to top politicians to adhere to the provisions of the model code.

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It withdrew permission given to the Telangana government for disbursements of financial aid to farmers for rabi crops under the Rythu Bandhu Scheme after a state minister violated the provisions of the model code by making a public announcement about it.

The poll panel had given its nod to the state government to disburse the rabi installment during the model code of conduct period on certain grounds.

It had also asked the government not to carry out the proposed Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, its mega outreach programme on schemes and initiatives, in these five states till December 5.

The government had made it clear that the yatra will not cover poll-going states till the model code of conduct was in force.

Based on complaints from rival parties, the EC issued notices to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. He was later issued an advisory and asked to follow the model code in letter and spirit.

Recently, the Election Commission also sought an explanation from the Congress government in Karnataka over advertisements publicising its achievements in newspapers in poll-bound Telangana.

In a letter to the Karnataka chief secretary, the commission said the state government did not obtain prior approval from it for publishing the advertisements, an action violative of the poll code.

It also said the publication of any such advertisement by the government of Karnataka in Telangana should stop with immediate effect till necessary approvals are taken by the state government from the commission.

According to the EC, the over Rs 1766 crore seizures during the poll period in Mizoram, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan were seven-fold more as compared to 2018 assembly elections.

Used for the first time, the Election Seizure Management System facilitated coordination among enforcement agencies, the poll panel said.

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