The auto-hubs of Gujarat, including Sanand and Viramgam in Ahmedabad district, have been declared as “expenditure-sensitive” areas by the Election Commission of India for the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
“These areas have seen significant inflow of cash or wealth in the recent past, where the population can be overwhelmed or allured by money,” Ahmedabad collector and district election officer Roopwant Singh said, while explaining about these “expenditure-sensitive areas” that have a “vulnerable population” prone to be influenced by money power.
In the past few years, both Sanand and Viramgam have seen a lot of wealth flowing into bank accounts of land-holding farmers after the state government carried out large-scale acquisitions to develop industrial nodes and auto-hubs that currently houses automobile companies like Ford Motors, Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki. For instance, the Gujarat government has acquired 3,200 hectare land from farmers in Sanand and about 800 hectare in Viramgam taluka during the past two years.
Sanand is part of Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency, which is currently represented by veteran BJP leader L K Advani, while Viramgam comes under the Surendranagar constituency.
Besides Sanand and Viramgam, the other “expenditure-sensitive” areas in the district are Dariapur (Ahmedabad-West), Danilimda (Ahmedabad-West), Vejalpur (Gandhinagar) and Daskroi (Kheda parliamentary constituency).
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Apart from the one flying squad that has been deployed to monitor election expenses at each Assembly constituency, the EC has also deployed an additional flying squad in these areas, Singh added.
However, the election officials refused to divulge a pan-Gujarat figure on such areas. Asked about their total number, chief electoral officer Anita Karwal said, “We would not like to part with this information. It might defeat its purpose.”
She, however, stated that the election commission officials were taking a “number of steps” in these sensitive pockets, even while refusing to elaborate on the details.
Other areas where the state government has acquired large tracts of farmland in the last two years are Dahej (about 4,400 hectare) in Bharuch district, Halol in Panchmahal district and Becharaji in Mehsana district among others.
According to election officials, the assistant returning officers in these zones will also keep an eye on the flow of money, gifts, liquor, community meal programmes.
“The officials will also keep a vigil on certain communities in Gujarat that have a history of exerting money-power in elections. Arrangements have also been made to videograph such incidents, so that action can be taken against such individuals,” an election official said on conditions of anonymity.
Over 1.47 lakh names deleted from voters’ list
Names of over 1.47 lakh voters in Ahmedabad district have been deleted from the electoral rolls. While over a lakh voters have shifted to other places, the EC found over 19,000 duplicate names of voters. Meanwhile, the names of 22,600 voters were deleted due to their demise. Of the deleted names, 73,000 were male and 74,000 female. There are currently over 47.6 lakh voters registered in Ahmedabad district.(ENS)