Outgoing Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said demonetisation had “absolutely no impact” on black money, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. Rawat said the poll panel seized a “record amount” of money during elections.
“Even in [Assembly] elections to these five states [Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram], seizures have been close to Rs 200 crore,” Rawat said. “It shows that money during elections is coming from sources which are very influential and are not affected by such measures.”
Rawat’s statement contradicts Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that the decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in November 2016 would crackdown on black money, among other things.
Rawat demitted office on Saturday. Sunil Arora will take over as the new chief election commissioner on Sunday. The counting of votes for Assembly elections in five states will take place on December 11.
On removal of Mizoram chief electoral officer
Rawat cited the panel’s decision to replace Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank following a protest in the state as a “big example of how big campaigns can turn the tables, even if there is no fault of yours”.
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had written to Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier in November to demand Shashank’s removal for his alleged role in the transfer of Principal Home Secretary L Chuaungo. On November 15, the panel withdrew Shashank from his post after representatives of civil society organisations in the poll-bound state met a delegation of the election panel to demand his removal.
On social media as threat to polls
The Election Commission chief said social media is a “potent threat” to free and fair elections across the globe.
The Indian government has discussed these concerns with social media giants including Facebook and Twitter, he said. “All of them have assured us that during the election campaign period, they will ensure that their platforms do not affect the polls adversely, and that they will flag advertisements, names of sponsors, money paid for advertisements,” Rawat told the newspaper. “Also, during the last 48 hours before the conclusion of the polls, called the ‘silence period’, they will not allow anything adverse on their platforms.”