Determined to curb abuse of money power in polls: ECI

New Delhi, Mar 15: Ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Election Commission on Friday held a meeting of multi departmental committee on election intelligence.

The meeting was convened by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora along with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra and was attended by heads of tax boards, law enforcement agencies, central paramilitary forces and representatives of financial institutions.

Addressing the meeting, Arora said it is the constitutional mandate of the Election Commission of India to conduct free and fair elections. 

"Conducting clean elections is now one of the biggest challenges in our democracy given the prevalent abuse of money power, particularly when it manifests in inducement of voters", he said.

He said Commission is determined to curb this menace and has issued detailed guidelines to monitor election expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties, an official release said.

"The expenditure monitoring mechanism has got stronger over a period of time and larger seizures have been made by our enforcement teams in successive elections. Individually and collectively the agencies participating in the meeting are the bulwarks of clean elections. The outcome of synergised action should exceed the commitments made", he added. 

Mr Lavasa pointed out that the implementation on the field, of instructions of the Commission requires co-ordination among the various expenditure monitoring teams and the agencies tasked with enforcement. 

"Sharing of Intelligence amongst the agencies should ensure that there is concerted attack on problems faced. Multidimensional, multi-fanged crime needs to be tackled with coordinated action", he said. 

He reminded the agencies that due follow-up action on seizures done in previous MCC phase should see demonstrative action against antisocial elements enough to feel deterred next time. 

Addressing the meeting, Chandra highlighted that election expenditure monitoring mechanism with its two thrust areas of keeping track of the legal expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties for election campaigns.

"More importantly, ensuring that there is no illegal use of money and other items for buying of votes, is vital to ensure clean elections. Use of money during the elections has increased by leaps and bounds in recent times and therefore there is greater need to have synergy amongst various enforcement agencies so that a collective strategy is developed to fight this menace", he said. 

The issues discussed at the meeting included ways of curbing of covert expenditure by candidates and political parties; sensitisation of the law enforcement agencies about their role during elections; co-operation and sharing of intelligence of economic offences amongst law enforcement agencies for effective action; preparation of road map for action during the elections; mapping of constituencies by concerned agencies to check transportation of smuggled goods, drugs, liquor and cash, including fake currency, through seaports, inter-state borders and international borders and pro-active and preventive action by each law enforcement agency. 

The heads of tax boards, law enforcement agencies, central paramilitary forces and representatives of financial institutions assured the Commission of prompt 24X7 expenditure monitoring and surveillance action and implementation of instructions to ensure curbing of abuse of money power in elections, the release said. (UNI)