Election Vigil Started In Karnataka By EC, Income-Tax And Excise Departments

Election Vigil Started In Karnataka By EC, Income-Tax And Excise Departments

Election Vigil Started In Karnataka By EC, Income-Tax And Excise Departments

While there are allegations of the use of alcohol and money by political parties to influence voters during most of the elections in Karnataka to some extent or the other, this time around, multiple government agencies have joined hands and have already started to chalk out a comprehensive plan to curb that tendency.

Plans are being worked out by the Election Commission, the Income Tax Department and the Karnataka Excise Department. The Assembly elections in Karnataka are to be held on May 12.

Election Commissions guidelines must be followed in Karnataka Assembly Elections

“We have drawn up an elaborate plan in accordance with the EC’s guidelines to curb the use of money power in the elections. The exercise will be on the same lines as that of the income-tax department in any election, but there will be modifications to suit local conditions,” B R Balakrishnan, director-general of income tax (investigation), told the media while briefing some parts of the plan.

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Election Commission to use Election Expenditure Monitoring System

The authorities this time believe that technology would prove to be too tough to evade for those engaging in such activities and elections would be free and fair, the authorities say.

“For the first time, most part of the election process is being automated, with the Election Expenditure Monitoring System which will keep tabs on spending by candidates. We have brought together various agencies, including the income-tax and excise departments, to curb electoral malpractices,” said Sanjiv Kumar, chief electoral officer, Karnataka.

No malpractice in 2018 Karnataka elections

No malpractice in 2018 Karnataka elections

Rs 20 crore seized during 2013 Karnataka Assembly Elections

Cash of Rs 20 crore and jewelry and gold worth Rs 3.4 crore were seized during the 2013 assembly elections in Karnataka and that is said to be the highest for any assembly elections in the state.

Raids, Seizure of illegal money will be conducted by Deputy Director of Income-Tax

There would be statutory powers such conduct searches and raids, seizure of wealth and even interrogating of candidates if necessary, that would be given to teams headed by the Deputy Director of Income-Tax, who are at present being deployed at the district levels, the authorities said.

Election Commission of India (ECI) will control the whole Code of Conduct in Karnataka Assembly Elections

Searches or raids are not allowed to be carried out by teams of observers that are under the control of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the flying squads used by the State Government. Such teams only have the power to reach the spot.

“They have to pass on information to the income-tax department. Only an authorized team can handle illegal wealth,” said Balakrishnan.

To enable the general population to supply information to the authorities, email addresses of the IT department would be provided and dedicated telephone lines are being set up, the authorities said.

Daily transactions are to be reported by the banks to the election panel according to an instruction by the ECI.

The pre-poll expenses of political parties and candidates are already being monitored by the election commission because every candidate for the assembly elections is allowed a total expenditure of only Rs 28 lakhs.

“We’re seizing liquor being illegally transported and distributed by potential candidates, and vigilance will be more stringent now,” Rajendra Prasad, joint excise commissioner, said.

There is some degree of skepticism about the effectiveness of the measures despite the best intention of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Such measures would not be of any use unless there are provisions for punishment of errant candidates, said Trilochan Sastry, founder, and trustee, Association for Democratic Reforms. “The seized wealth will be returned after dispute redressal, which is altogether a different issue as there is scope for corruption,” said Sastry.

On the other hand, returning officers and assistant returning officers will now have to appear for an examination conducted by the EC. The aim is to ensure that election rules and their enforcement are well understood by the officials.