A record Rs. 32 crore in cash has been seized by the authorities till a week ahead of by-elections to 18 assembly and one Lok Sabha seat on June 12. Officials have also recovered gold and silver worth Rs. 9 crore, taking the value of total seizure to Rs. 41 crore. Some 1.74 lakh litres of liquor has also been seized.
This exceeds the Rs. 38 crore seized in the run-up to the general elections in 2009. Andhra Pradesh has in recent years been considered notorious for distribution of money, valuables and free flow of liaquor during elections.
Political observers say despite the number of seats going to polls being less, it has been a matter of prestige for all the political parties because they see it as a virtual do-or-die battle. Performance in these elections is expected to set the mood for the elections in 2014 and may even force early elections.
State chief electoral officer Bhanwarlal is concerned that with a week still to go, more money may be pumped in. Rigorous checking will happen at checkposts and all entry points to constituencies going to the polls. Even vehicles of VIP politicians are being checked. A close watch is also being kept on unusual withdrawal of money from banks or ATMs.
Nellore district where a Lok Sabha election will be held has accounted for Rs. 7 crore seized so far. In Anantpur, where elections are being held for four assembly seats, Rs. 6.32 crore has been recovered.
“275 complaints of various nature have been received from various political parties and others since the date of announcement of the bypolls and 117 of them have been acted upon. The remaining 158 cases are being pursued and action will be initiated in a couple of days,” said Bhanwarlal, Chief Electoral Officer.
“In 2009 they’ve seized about Rs. 38 crore and other articles. Now, till today, we’ve seized about Rs. 32 crore in cash and Rs. 9 crore worth of gold jewellery and silver items. So total put together, its Rs. 41 crore. Means, in 18 assembly and one parliamentary constituencies by-election, the total seizure is exceeding the 2009 general election seizure that was 294 assembly constituencies and 42 parliamentary constituencies,” he added.