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Pre-election raids should be neutral, says EC after IT raids in MP

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New Delhi, Apr 07: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Sunday advised investigation and enforcement agencies that actions by the department during the elections period be conducted in a neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory manner.

The EC's letter comes after multiple raids by the IT department were conducted in the residences of Congress leaders in Bhopal.

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"The Election Commission strongly advises that all enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curb the blatant electoral malpractice (of using money power to influence voter behaviour), be absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory," EC said in a letter to the investigation agencies.

Further, in case of suspected use of such illicit money for electoral purposes, the Chief Electoral Officer should be kept suitably informed during the period coming under the Model Code of Conduct," the letter said.

The letter also highlighted that money power with the intention of influencing voters' behaviour has over the years emerged as one of the biggest challenges for conduct of free, fair, ethical and credible elections.

The EC said it is understood that all enforcement agencies working under the administrative control of the finance ministry's revenue department must be undertaking enforcement actions based on inputs and actionable intelligence, as per extant laws.

The Income Tax department has carried out raids in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday and in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the recent past.

The opposition has alleged that rival parties are being singled out by the ruling dispensation in the poll season.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha election starts from April 11 and counting will held on May 23.

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