In case you have not realised it yet, in one form or the other you are witness to history unfold before you. Never before did it happen that 900 million (90 crore) people enjoyed the power to decide who will govern them.
The 2019 Lok Sabha election in India is historic not just for its sheer size (being the world’s largest democratic election till date), but it is historic also for the worth and quantity of cash, drugs, liquor and freebies seized by vigilance authorities during these elections.
As on May 20, cash, drugs/narcotics, liquor, precious metal (gold, silver etc) and freebies worth Rs 34,56,22,00,000 (Rs 3,456.33 crore) was seized in India. Much of this came from the seizure of drugs/narcotics and precious metal. This amount is nearly 90 per cent of the amount that the government officially spent in conducting the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
What also made 2019 Lok Sabha historic was that it was the first time when election to a parliamentary constituency was cancelled because there was rampant use of money power. On April 16, the Election Commission of India announced that it has decided to cancel election to Vellore Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu.
The Income Tax Department found bundles of banknotes worth Rs 10.48 crore stashed in a warehouse reportedly owned by a worker of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a major political party in Tamil Nadu.
WHY DOES IT MATTER: A FLASHBACK TO 2014
Data of the Election Commission of India show that Rs 2,99,94,30,804 (that’s nearly Rs 300 crore) in cash was seized during the 2014 Lok Sabha election. This was besides the 1,61,84,508 litre liquor and 17,070 kg drugs/narcotics (worth hundreds of crores of rupees) that was seized from different parts of the country.
These numbers would make more sense if we simplify them in these terms:
1) The cash seized during the 2014 Lok Sabha election was equivalent to 75 per cent of the donation received in cash at the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi in 2011.
2) The quantity of drugs/narcotics seized was roughly the same as the weight of three adult male Asiatic elephants and a baby elephant put together. (An adult male Asiatic elephant weighs nearly 5,000 kg.)
3) The liquor seized in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections would easily fill nearly six-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Five years on, things have only worsened. Political parties have sharpened their skills and are today excelling at using cash, liquor, drugs, among others, to influence voters during elections..
The total seizure so far in this election is nearly 90 per cent of the amount that the govt spent in conducting the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Between March 26 and May 20, Rs 841.11 crore in cash was been seized in India. This amount is 180 per cent more than the total cash seized in 2014 (Rs 299.943 crore).
(We will discuss seizures during the 2019 Lok Sabha election in detail below. We shall also give latest elephant and swimming pool examples (among others) to make sense of these big numbers.)
(Click photo for a zoomed version.)
Comparing the seizure data for 2014 with the data for this year, we find that the total quantity of liquor seized this year has already surpassed the quantity seized in 2014 Lok Sabha election. In 2014, authorities seized 1,61,84,508 litre liquor. The figure for 2019 Lok Sabha election so far is 1,86,00,000 litre.
(Data on seizure of gold, silver and freebies for 2014 is not available.)
For drugs/narcotics, the seized quantity (77,631.65 kg) since March 26 is already 354.78 per cent more than the total quantity seized in 2014.
The Election Commission had announced the schedule for the 2019 Lok Sabha election on March 10. Election to the 542 Lok Sabha constituencies were held in seven phases and the result will be declared on May 23.
WHAT WE DID
To keep track of the seizures made in different parts of the country, IndiaToday.in built a daily tracker which provided readers a daily updated data on seizures made during these elections across the country.
These seizures are on account of politicians possessing/distributing/transporting illegal cash, narcotics and drugs, distributing liquor, gold and silver items and a host of freebies and gifts among people to lure them to vote in their favour. These activities are prohibited under the Representation of Peoples Act.
IndiaToday.in’s daily tracker was updated every day and provided the latest data on violation of election law.
For readers’ benefit, we simplified the data using interactive digital tools to give state-wise insights on different aspects.
According to the Election Commission of India, as on May 20, cash and goods (drugs, liquor, gold, silver etc) worth Rs 3,456.22 crore have been seized across the country. This boils down to nearly Rs 60 crore every day.
For our elephant, swimming pool and cash donation analogy, we find that:
1) The quantity of drugs/narcotics seized so far (77,631.65 kg) is roughly equal to the weight of 15 adult male Asiatic elephants and a calf.
2) The liquor seized (1.86 crore litre) would fill nearly 7.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
3) The cash seized is more than twice the cash donated at Sai Baba temple in Shirdi in 2011.
Another example that will help understand the size of this total amount is the fact that the total seizure so far in this election is nearly 90 per cent of the amount that the Government of India spent in conducting the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Government expenditure for conducting 2014 Lok Sabha election was Rs 3,870.34 crore while authorities have already made seizures worth Rs 3,456.22 crore in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
An analysis of daily seizure reports shows that while cash, drugs, liquor, gold etc. are being seized every day across the country, there are five states that contribute more than 70 per cent to this.
As on May 20, with seizures worth Rs 951.98 crore, Tamil Nadu had the highest share in election-time seizure. It was followed by Gujarat (Rs 552.78 crore), Delhi (Rs 426.1 crore), Punjab (Rs 285.02 crore) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 228.92 crore).
(Click photo for zoomed version.)
The data analysis also shows that political parties in different states behaved differently in terms of using cash, liquor, drugs, gold/silver and freebies to influence voters.
In states like Gujarat, Punjab and Delhi, the highest contribution comes from the seizure of drugs and narcotics. In Tamil Nadu, political parties relied more on distributing gold, silver and other valuables to influence voters. And in Andhra Pradesh, cash was the main contributor to the total seized in the state.
DRUGS: GUJARAT, DELHI & PUNJAB ON TOO HIGH A LADDER
Between March 26 and May 20, cash and goods worth Rs 552.78 crore were seized in Gujarat. But nearly 95 per cent of this amount (Rs 524.34) comes from seizure of drugs and narcotics.
In the national capital, drugs and narcotics make up 88 per cent (Rs 374.67 crore) of the total amount (Rs 426.10 crore) seized during these elections so far. Much of these drugs and narcotics were seized on April 10, a day before voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile in Punjab, drugs/narcotics worth Rs 218.49 crore have been seized so far.
What also needs to be noted is that though drugs and narcotics contribute the most to the seizure amount in Gujarat, Delhi and Punjab, in terms of quantity (kg seized), these states aren’t the leaders.
Authorities have seized 15,613 kg drugs/narcotics in Maharashtra; 20,578 kg in Madhya Pradesh; and 24,969 kg in Uttar Pradesh.
Now, contrast this with Gujarat where the quantity of drugs/narcotics seized is 130.73 kg.
This mismatch between quantity seized and its market worth suggests that the contrabands seized in Gujarat, Delhi and Punjab were of a much superior quality than the ones that were being supplied elsewhere.
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD IN TAMIL NADU
While politicians in Gujarat, Delhi and Punjab may like to influence voters by transcending them to a different mental zone, in Tamil Nadu, it was a different ballgame altogether.
Here, politicians believe in cashing on in people’s materialistic cravings manifested in the love for gold, silver and other precious metals.
This perhaps explains the fact that worth of gold, silver and other valuables seized make up nearly 74 per cent of the total seizure amount in Tamil Nadu.
Authorities seized gold/silver etc worth Rs 709,67,00,000 crore in Tamil Nadu in this election season, the highest in the country.
The distant second in seizure of gold/silver is Uttar Pradesh (Rs 71.79 crore).
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