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Report: Cash, booze and drugs buy India votes

2014 General Election MapElection officials in India since March have seized $36 million in cash, about 700,000 gallons of alcohol, and 220 pounds of heroin intended to buy votes for the ongoing 2014 election.

“Bribe money is concealed in cars, planes, and ambulances, and alcohol is transported in water tanks to avoid detection,” the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said.

The legal spending limit for each parliamentary seat is 7 million rupees ($ 116,200), the report said.

But underground money for the election is expected to top $5 billion.

Last week, India’s Election Commission also warned media outlets against telecasting or publishing “paid news.”

“The phenomenon of paid news, without hyperbole, has resulted in an insidious subversion of the most fundamental of democratic ideals: the purity of the vote,” Paranjoy Singh Thakurta, a journalist and author, told Al Jazeera.

The current election for 543 parliamentary seats ends May 12. It started on April 7 with phased voting across the country.

India has 814 million registered voters.

“Subtle and not-so-subtle attempts are made to ‘commission’ journalists to write articles that favor a particular candidate or discredit his opponent,” Thakurta said.

With underground spending, the current Indian election will be “second only to the $6 billion spent in the last U.S. Presidential election,” OCCRP said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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