Black Money In Polls: Election Commission To Deploy 400 Observers In 5 States

New Delhi: Over 400 expenditure observers, drawn from the IRS and other central services, will be deployed in five states that will see the Assembly polls, the Election Commission said on Wednesday. The observers will be used to check the use of black money and other illegal activities during the elections.

The observers have been allocated the states and constituencies after a briefing by the Election Commission, officials said.

While 200 observers will be drawn from the Income Tax department stream of the Indian Revenue Service, 150 are from the Central Excise and Customs department of the IRS and about 50 more from other central services, officials said.

“These expenditure observers will be deployed to check circulation of black money and other illegal inducements during the polls and will be in touch with the EC headquarters in Delhi. The Commission is committed to have a level playing field during the polls and hence it is essential to monitor the flow of funds, cash and other items that act as bribes to the voters,” they said.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes, the policy-making body of the I-T department, has also asked the taxman to bolster their Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at major airports in these poll-bound states to check movement of cash and other suspect items.

“State excise departments and police authorities have been asked to monitor production, distribution, sale and storage of liquor and other intoxicants (including narcotics) during the election process. The functioning and operations of the flying squads and mobile teams shall be closely monitored using GPS tracking,” the EC said on Wednesday.

The schedule for the Assembly elections in the politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur were announced on Wednesday. The election in these five states will be held between February 4 and March 8.

While polling will be spread over seven phases in Uttar Pradesh, it will be a one-day affair in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa while in Manipur it will be a two-day exercise.

Counting of votes in all the states will be held on March 11.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi said the Commission will keep a watch on the use of black money, which is expected to come down due to demonetisation, and steps will be taken up to ensure that other illegal inducements are not used to influence voters.

The maximum limit for expenses for each candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand is Rs. 28 lakh, while that in Goa and Manipur is Rs. 20 lakh