The Election Commission on Tuesday said enforcement agencies in poll-bound Karnataka seized over Rs 375 crore worth of liquor, drugs and freebies which was 4.5 times more than what was recovered during the last assembly election in the state. It said that increased focus on expenditure monitoring was the reason being the seizures, which included freebies such as sarees, ‘food kits’, pressure cookers and kitchen appliances.

The Enforcement Directorate attached assets worth Rs 288 crore after the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct on March 29 in the state. The poll panel has marked 81 assembly seats as “expenditure sensitive” constituencies. Notable hauls included the seizure of Rs 4.04 crore cash in Bangarapet constituency in Kolar district, a raid on a laboratory illegally manufacturing Alprazolam in Hyderabad using intelligence and trail mapping by the Narcotics Control Bureau and the seizure of 100 kg ganja in Bidar district, the poll panel said.

Significant liquor seizures have been made by all the districts, it said. Another striking feature of expenditure monitoring has been huge seizures of freebies. Sarees and food kits have been seized from Kalburgi, Chimanglur and other districts. A large number of pressure cookers and kitchen appliances were also seized from Bailhongal and Kunigal and other assembly constituencies,” he said in a statement.

“The recorded seizures in the state mark a significant 4.5 times increase as compared to the assembly election in 2018. Strict vigil, extensive monitoring, coordination with neighboring states and inter-agency coordination has led to checking flow and distribution of inducements in Karnataka this time ,” the Election Commission said. While announcing the schedule for Karnataka assembly elections Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar had stressed on increased vigil and zero tolerance on the distribution of events during the electoral process.

He had remarked that the commission has significantly raised the bar for ensuring inducement-free elections and the continuum of stepping up of efforts and increase in seizures witnessed during recently held assembly elections in five states, would continue, the poll panel recalled. From the date of the visit of the commission in the second week of March, till the date of the announcement of the elections, seizures of Rs 83.78 crore were also made by various enforcement agencies, it said.

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