A whopping Rs 127.64 crore worth of cash, liquor, drugs, freebies and precious metals, has been seized in the state of Tamil Nadu as of March 16, 2021, by the Election Commission of India (ECI). Tamil Nadu leads with the most amount seized across five poll-bound states and a Union territory — Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. What’s more, ECI expects this figure to rise further with the intensifying of the electoral process over the next couple of weeks. Ahead of the Assembly elections, the ECI has made a record seizure of Rs 331.47 crore worth of items which include cash, liquor, drugs, freebies and precious metals, a significant chunk of it, over 38.5%, is from the state of Tamil Nadu. As part of ECI’s Expenditure Monitoring Process, Rs 127.64 crore worth of cash, liquor, drugs, freebies and precious metals, have been seized in Tamil Nadu. Of this amount Rs 50.86 crore is in cash, Rs 1.32 crore in liquor, Rs 35 lakh worth drugs, freebies worth Rs 14.06 crore and Rs 61.04 crore in precious metals. A report by ECI shows that in Tamil Nadu, bribery in the form of cash and precious metals is high. In Assam, the highest value seized was in the form of liquor (Rs 17.25 crore). While ECI has seized a total of Rs 5.72 crore in cash, liquor, drugs, freebies, and precious metals from Puducherry, in Kerala, this number stands at Rs 21.77 crore. Tamil Nadu is closely followed by West Bengal that has amounted to a total seizure at a value of Rs 112.59 crore. In West Bengal, however, the biggest contributor came in the form of drugs, valued at Rs 47.40 crore. According to the ECI, distributing cash and gifts during the electoral process falls under bribery and is an offence. “Distributing cash and gifts during the electoral process is not permitted under the law, e.g., distribution of money, liquor, or any other item disbursed and given to the electors with the intent to influence them. This expenditure comes under the definition of “bribery” which is an offence both under 171B of IPC and under RP Act, 1951. The expenditure on such items is illegal,” it explains in the press note. Election Commission of India has deployed 295 Expenditure Observers to curb black money circulation ahead of the upcoming Assembly Elections. For this purpose, ECI has appointed five Special Expenditure Observers — Madhu Mahajan and BR Balakrishnan (both for Tamil Nadu and UT of Puducherry), B Murali Kumar (for West Bengal), Neena Nigam (for Assam), and Pushpinder Singh Puniha (for Kerala). According to the press note issued by ECI, during the 2016 Assembly elections, total seizures from these five states stood at Rs 225.77 crore.