Money plays a big role in Andhra Pradesh elections and this is evident from the fact that it accounts for nearly 50 percent of the unaccounted cash seized so far across the country. Chief Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath told reporters here Saturday that Rs.105 crore was seized in Andhra Pradesh since the model code of conduct came into force last month.
"This is 46 percent of total cash seized in the country. Almost half of the cash seized in the country is from Andhra Pradesh," he said. Sampath along with other election commissioners was addressing a news conference after reviewing the poll arrangements with top officials. The poll panel held a meeting with political parties before a separate meeting with district collectors and superintendents of police and a final round with the chief secretary, the director general of police and the home secretary.
Simultaneous elections to 294 seats of Andhra Pradesh assembly and 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state are scheduled in two phases - April 30 and May 7. The CEC said the state has 6.48 crore voters with 33 percent of them in the age group of 18-19 years. There are 70,171 polling stations with 36 percent as critical and hypercritical, where the commission will take special measures for free and fair polling.
Sampath said Andhra Pradesh is known for expenditure sensitivity. "101 assembly constituencies are noted as expenditure sensitive constituencies. Special measures will be taken to check role of money and liquor in those areas," he said. The authorities have so far seized 3.92 lakh litres of liquor. The political parties complained to the poll panel about inducements offered by candidates to the voters with cash, gifts and liquor.
He said the officers were asked to tighten the vigilance and respond to complaints with speed and efficiency. The commission will strengthen central helpline 1950. The CEC said 85 expenditure observers, 126 assistant expenditure observers, 1,104 flying squads and 1,060 static surveillance teams have been deployed to control expenditure and cash in the state. The commission has also formed village awareness groups in expenditure sensitive pockets to sensitise people and inform them about corrupt practices.
Sampath pointed out that under the Indian Penal Code, accepting bribe for voting is punishable with imprisonment up to one year.