It has been just five days since the poll notification was issued in Tamil Nadu and the Election Commission has been unearthing stupendous amounts of cash and gold across the state. Since the notification was issued on April 22, Rs 55 crore in cash has been recovered in the state. This is more than the entire cash haul of Rs 38 crore by the EC during the 2011 assembly elections in the state.In addition to cash, gold coins, liquor, dhotis and sarees, meant for distribution to voters have been seized across the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Elections in Tamil Nadu are notorious for cash and other goodies being doled to people in a bid to buy their votes.One of the primary reasons for the unprecedented haul is the intensive measures put in place by the EC in Tamil Nadu.”All parties complained to us that cash was being used to buy votes. So we decided to use a two-pronged strategy to curb the menace. The first involves enforcement and the second awareness. For the first time we have Income Tax (IT) teams in each district to monitor cash movement,” said Rajesh Lakhoni, chief electoral officer (CEO) of Tamil Nadu.The enforcement has been strengthened by increasing the number of flying squads in each district and fortifying these squads by posting more officers from the central government in these squads. For the first time, probationary officers from the Indian Police Service (IPS) have been made part of the squads. In addition, special IT teams have been posted in each district. The flying squads and the IT teams are working in unison, which partially explains the exponential rise in seizures in just a few days in the state.”The flying squads actively scour for information about cash, liquor or any other inducement in their respective districts. On getting the information, the squad goes and surrounds the place. The IT team is then informed which then comes to search the place. If anything illegal or unaccounted for is found, it is immediately seized,” explains CEO Lakhoni.These measures seem to have worked wonders till now in a state where officials have in the past found it hard to stem the flow of cash to voters. Figures reveal raids and seizures on almost a daily basis.On April 25, Rs 3.40 crore in cash and 245 gold coins worth several crores were seized from the classroom of a private school in Krishanigiri district, some 300 kms from the state capital Chennai. On the same day officials had recovered Rs 4.8 crore from the house of an AIADMK functionary in the heart of Chennai city. Close to Rs 6 crore were recovered in raids in the western districts of the state like Coimbatore and Karur. The EC has said that its expenditure monitoring teams had further seized almost Rs 36 crore from across Tamil Nadu.While enforcement measures have borne results in curbing cash flows, the EC has also launched an advertising campaign asking Tamils to refrain from accepting cash or any other inducement for their votes. Billboards across Chennai and other cities in Tamil Nadu have been splashed with the message ‘Your vote not for sale’. The campaign has been launched by the EC in both English and Tamil. A similar campaign has also been started on social media.However, many believe that the EC’s measures will not help purge the culture of bribing people for votes in Tamil Nadu. Retired IAS officer MG Devasahayam says, “In Tamil Nadu, economic intelligence is a failure and the IT department is incapable. Even though the EC has the support of IAS, IPS and IRS officers, the information has to come from the lower rung. And most of the lower rung bureaucracy in the state is sold out.”

Original article:

Cash seizures in Tamil Nadu polls break all records