The seizures made in West Bengal in this election season so far has surpassed the captures made in the recent polls in the state, making it obvious that money power has started making its footprints in the state.
The different agencies working under the Election Commission of India have made seizures worth more than Rs 290 crore, which is far more than the seizures made in the past elections.
The data released by the Commission show that the different agencies cumulatively made seizures worth Rs 290.4 crore till date from the date of announcement of the polls.
These seizures include cash recoveries of Rs 47.8 crore, liquor worth Rs 28.3 crore, narcotics worth Rs 118.2 crore, gold and silver worth Rs 11.8 core and freebies worth Rs 84.3 crore.
“Polling has not yet been concluded in the state, but the huge amount of seizures made by the agencies show that large amounts are involved in these elections, which are mainly used to influence the voters,” a senior Election Commission official said.
The list of seizures also includes certain surprising items such as Hilsa fish, sarees, readymade garments, tobacco and pan masala, and mobile phones, among others.
“These items were mainly seized along the Bangladesh border, which shows that these items were brought into the country to appease the voters. Though no one has been arrested, the recovery itself is a significant development in the polling history of the state,” the official said.
According to the EC officials, this is highest seizure made in any election season in the state so far. During the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, there was a cumulative seizure of Rs 177.5 crore, including Rs 65.9 crore in cash and liquor worth Rs 111.6 crore.
There was negligible recovery in the last Assembly polls in 2016 when there was a seizure of only Rs 8.2 crore during the entire elections, including cash recovery of Rs 7.8 core and liquor worth Rs 40.5 lakh.
“There were no financially sensitive constituencies in the state because of the low recovery in 2016, but after this election, the Commission will have to think in a different manner. The recent trend shows that like Tamil Nadu and Assam, money power has started making its footprints in the state,” the official added.
After the polls were notified on February 26, all constituencies in Bengal had formed special surveillance teams (SSTs) and flying squads. The police in Kolkata also played a crucial role working on the leads. The STF and the detective department also made several interventions. Many gun runners have been nabbed across the state,” said a police officer.
“Since the announcement of the elections on February 26, Bengal Police, Kolkata Police, state Excise Department, Income Tax Department, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau, flying squads, Static Surveillance Teams and other regulatory agencies have been working round the clock to detect any suspicious movement of cash, liquor, valuables, narcotics, among other contrabands, across the poll-bound state,” another officer in the CEO’s office said.