Innovative methods like transfer of funds through the RTGS banking system and concealment of currency wads inside car bonnets were detected by Election Commission (EC) as it took steps to curb the use of black money during the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls.
The poll panel’s election expenditure monitoring wing, under its Director General (Expenditure) PK Dash, seized total cash of Rs 313 crore and 2.25 crore litres of liquor along with other illegal inducements for bribing voters during the recently held parliamentary and Assembly polls.
“As a fear was created among miscreants, they were constantly changing methods. For example, since vehicles were being checked, it was noticed that some carried cash in the bonnet of the vehicle and, when it was recovered, the currency notes were burnt and the teams seized half-burnt notes.
“Similarly, Rs 8.31 crore in cash being carried on the roofs of buses in five bags was also seized. Cash was being transferred through Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) to accounts of voters. Several innovative methods were being adopted to avoid being caught by the checking teams,” Dash said.
Under RBI rules, the minimum amount that can be sent through the RTGS system is Rs 2 lakh. Dash said that notwithstanding the innovative means, EC and its teams were able to effectively contain black money use in the polls.
Talking about the recent raising of the ceiling of expenditure for candidates for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, Dash said the current limit of Rs 70 lakh for Lok Sabha candidates and Rs 28 lakh for Assembly poll contestants was “adequate”.
Dash said EC’s evaluation was that 80 per cent of the candidates show less than 90 per cent of the ceiling amount in their election expense statements after the polls are over.
“During the all-party meeting held just before Lok Sabha polls, it was demanded that the existing ceiling of 40 lakh be revised. Hence, the Commission recommended that it be raised to Rs 70 lakh. This was done keeping in view the inflation rate, increase in number of voters and, consequently, the number of polling stations and also changes in method of campaigning due to changes in information, communication and technology techniques.
“Some argue that the current ceiling of Rs 70 lakh is not sufficient, while others say that the limit is too high and will lead to corrupt practices as many cannot afford (to spend) Rs 70 lakh in view of the low average income of people. The question arises here what should be the ceiling? The reality is quite different. Eighty per cent of the candidates show less than 90 per cent of the ceiling in their election expense account,” he said.