Gujarat Elections: Cash, Drugs, Liquor Worth Rs 290 Crore Seized, 10 Times More Than 2017 Seizures

The total seizures in the 2017 Gujarat assembly election were Rs 27.21 crore. As on November 29, total seizures stood at Rs 290.24 crore -- 10.66 times of seizures in 2017.

People wait in a queue to cast their votes during the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections.

Cash, drugs, liquor and freebies worth over Rs 290 crore have so far been seized in poll-bound Gujarat, which is over 10 times the recoveries made during the entire 2017 assembly election period in the state.

Cash, drugs, liquor doled out

According to the Election Commission, its planning and monitoring through various enforcement agencies have led to record seizures during the election process in the state. One significant "ongoing seizure process of heavy consignment of drugs" is being led by a team of officers of ATS Gujarat which is carrying out an operation in Vadodara (Rural) and Vadodara City. 

The team has identified two mephedrone drug manufacturing units and unearthed about 143 kg of mephedrone (synthetic drug) worth about Rs 478 crore. They have detained five persons from Nadiad and Vadodara and a criminal case is being registered in ATS Police Station, Ahmedabad under relevant sections of the NDPS Act, 1985. 

"The operation is in progress and complete details will be made available once the operation is completed," the poll panel said.

The total seizures in the 2017 Gujarat assembly election were Rs 27.21 crore. As on November 29, total seizures stood at Rs 290.24 crore -- 10.66 times of seizures in 2017. Besides the contraband seized in the ongoing operation by Gujarat ATS, drugs worth Rs 61.96 crore have been recovered. Over four lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 14.88 crore has also been recovered from the dry state, EC data said.

Influence of money and muscle power

Earlier on Thursday, a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) revealed that a total of 167 candidates have criminal cases filed against them, with 100 of them facing serious charges like murder and rape. 

Incidentally, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which usually banks on its "clean" and corruption free image, tops the list with 36 percent of its candidates having criminal cases against them. The party, which is contesting 88 seats out of the total 89, has given tickets to thirty percent of candidates with serious cases such as murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, among others, the ADR said in its report. The party has given tickets to 32 candidates with criminal records.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party is followed by the Congress, which has fielded 35 per cent of its candidates with criminal cases. Twenty per cent of such candidates are facing serious cases.

The ruling BJP, which is also contesting all seats in the first phase of the election, has fielded 14 candidates with criminal records. Percentagewise, such candidates account for 16 per cent of its total number of whom 12 per cent are facing serious charges, the report highlights. 

As per the Election Commission's directions in compliance with the Supreme Court order dated September 25, 2018, it is mandatory for all political parties to upload on its website the information on pending criminal cases and reasons for selection of such candidates.

Moreover, 211 of the 788 candidates contesting in the first phase are 'crorepatis', with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accounting for 79 such nominees. Topping the rich list is BJP, which is contesting all 89 seats, and has 79 candidates or 89 per cent of its nominees with assets above Rs one crore. The ruling party is followed by the opposition Congress with 65 candidates at 73 per cent and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with 33 candidates at 38 per cent.

Constituencies on 'red alert'

Against this backdrop, the ADR has also tagged 25 out of the total 89 constituencies in the first phase as "red alert" seats, or those where three or more candidates have declared criminal cases. 

Gujarat is going for two-phase elections on December 1 and 5.

(With inputs from PTI)