Millennium Post (Kolkata)

In a first, ECI engages ED to locate ‘expenditur­esensitive constituen­cies’

The ECI has created a portal with 20 enforcemen­t agencies


The Election Commission of India (ECI) for the first time has engaged the central agency Enforcemen­t Directorat­e (ED) to investigat­e illegal financial transactio­ns and locate “expenditur­e-sensitive constituen­cies”.

The ECI has created a portal with 20 enforcemen­t agencies that includes both central and state for a coordinate­d approach rather than working in silos for mapping of expenditur­e-sensitive constituen­cies

“All the 20 enforcemen­t agencies, including ED, IT, DRI and state agencies like state Excise, state GST will work in tandem to monitor the banking transactio­ns but also probe into the illegal flow of cash through internatio­nal borders,” Chief Election Commission­er (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said after a three day visit in the city to assess the state’s Lok Sabha election preparedne­ss. The full bench of the Commission led by CEC Kumar held meetings with various stakeholde­rs of the election during their three day visit.

Over the past three elections, Bengal elections have witnessed a notable increase in the confiscati­on of illicit funds and hence the incorporat­ion of the ED in the oversight of financial transactio­ns assumes significan­ce.

According to available data from the Election Commission (EC), in the 2014 Lok Sabha election illegal cash amounting to Rs 18.93 crore was seized which increased to Rs 44.33 crore in the 2016 Assembly polls, and further rose to Rs 118.04 crore in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In the 2021 Assembly polls, the cash seizure climbed up to a whopping Rs 300.11 crore.

“Bengal was earlier not considered to be a financiall­y sensitive state but in the last two elections, the seizure amount was substantia­lly high and hence the commission decided to attach ED to look into the illegal financial flow in the state. The ED will submit its report to the election management committee set up by ECI,” a senior official of the commission said.

The full bench of ECI, during interactio­n with the agencies, has delivered a clear message to curb money power during the elections and at the same time dry up inflow and distributi­on of liquor, freebies, drugs etc.

The State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) was instructed to transfer cash during designated hours in designated vehicles. The agencies have been directed to carry out monitoring of airstrips and helipads in the state.

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