Even as the war of words between political parties raged on in western Uttar Pradesh during the elections in the backdrop of Muzaffarnagar riots, another war – of wooing voters through cash, liquor and drugs – lingered on behind the scene. Muzaffarnagar itself figures third in the list of districts from where huge amount of cash was seized (Rs 1.34 crore), behind only Ghaziabad (Rs 4.19 crore) and Sambhal (Rs 1.5 crore), as per the details available with UP Election Commission. Besides, barring a handful, all the cash seized were from the Saharanpur-Agra belt of western UP.
A total of Rs 24.07 crore was intercepted during the elections in the state by Flying Squads and Static Surveillance Teams, lending UP the fifth position across the country with pan-India seizure clocking a massive figure of Rs 313 crore. Of the said amount intercepted in UP, Rs 21.63 crore was handed over to the Income Tax Department which, upon scrutiny, seized Rs 10.92 crore and sent back the rest of the amount.
Among other western UP districts, Rs 64.59 lakh was seized from Gautam Buddh Nagar, followed by Meerut (Rs 51 lakh) and Saharanpur (Rs 33 lakh). Sudhir Panwar, a political analyst, attributed this trend to the “business-politics” combination. “The region (western UP) is more prosperous and quite a few businessmen were also in fray. Money power is a major tool to influence voters in the region,” Panwar said, adding that another reason could be the fact that the administration grew lethargic as the elections progressed.
Interestingly, places that are witnessing a high-profile contest recorded a relatively small cash seizure: Varanasi (Rs 18.6 lakh), Lucknow (Rs 10.5 lakh), Rae Bareli (Rs 11.6 lakh) and Kannauj (Rs 10.99 lakh). When it comes to liquor, over 10 lakh litre was seized in UP along with Rs 6.86 crore worth of narcotics and drugs. As per the UP-DGP office, also seized were 4,561 arms, 7,529 rounds of ammunition, 1,553 kgs of explosives and 378 bombs.