'Complete crackdown on booze-for-vote impossible'

Winning over voters with booze ahead of the December 4 Assembly elections may not be possible for candidates as the Delhi Election Commission is showing zero tolerance for attempts to induce electorate and has seized nearly 2,000 litres of liquor.

The seizures have been made since the poll code came into force on October 4.  
“Our 161 squads are on the job and have seized large quantities of both country liquor and Indian-Made Foreign Liquor,” said Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev.

“We have zero tolerance for violations of the election code,” he said, adding that any attempts at inducing voters would be nipped in the bud.

According to officials, the Delhi electoral office has seized as many as 11,846 bottles of country liquor and 375 bottles of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) – both adding up to about 2,000 litres in the past 20 days.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav has gone on record by alleging that the rival parties were preparing to distribute liquor among voters over two days after the campaign for elections ends on December 2.

“We cannot match them (rivals) and may lose a vote share of about 2.5 per cent due to this,” he said.

Election office’s Chief Nodal Officer (model code of conduct) Ankur Garg said they had a plan in place to check the alleged malpractices in the last 48 hours before elections.

“We have a system in place and our teams are in touch with income tax, excise and financial intelligence wings,” he said and added, “Wherever liquor bottles are found being carried without a permit, these are being seized.”

According to election department officials, after November 9, once the notification for candidates to file nomination is issued, more such cases may come to light.
“Country liquor bottles outnumber IMFL in the stocks seized so far and this could be an indication

that political parties might be eyeing voters in slums and resettlement colonies,” said an official.

An election department official said most of the illegal liquor being smuggled into the city ahead of the polls was being handled by conduits of politicians and parties.

“Even after seizures it is a challenge for us to narrow down on who ordered the consignment or for which area it was meant for,” said an official.

“We are completely dependent on police to investigate and give the details to us about those involved. This, at times, takes a lot of time,” said another official.

Sources in political parties and veterans of electoral contests admitted there was no way the distribution of liquor before elections could be weeded out completely. “Law violators have to be a step ahead of law enforcers,” said a politician, who did not wish to be named.

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