New Delhi: The Election Commission has asked enforcement agencies like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to keep a close vigil on suspicious cash withdrawals and fake currency emanating both from inside and outside the country to curb the use of money power during the forthcoming Assembly polls.

Besides writing to almost six enforcement agencies, the Commission has also communicated with all recognised national and state political parties advising them to ‘avoid transactions in cash’ and ask their affiliates ‘not to carry huge cash’ during polls.

"In order to maintain purity of elections and in particular to bring transparency in the process of elections, it is advised that political parties exercise self-restraint in election expenditure of their candidates and also avoid transactions in cash. They (parties) should instruct their office bearers, officials, agents and candidates not to carry huge cash during the on-going process of elections in poll going states," the EC said in its two-page letter on Sunday.

The EC, which had activated an Expenditure Monitoring Cell before the Assembly polls in Bihar last year, has now roped in the entire investigation machinery of the Income Tax department in the states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry to keep a check on the spending of political parties and candidates.

The poll body has specifically asked the DRI to maintain "close surveillance till the completion of polls" as "it is suspected that spurious items including undisclosed cash and fake currency may be transported across the borders from foreign countries either through the international airports or through borders".

The EC has asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to monitor and report if political parties are violating tax laws and indulging in money laundering.

The Commission, in a classified note, has also asked the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the economic snoop wing under the Finance Ministry, to activate its scanners on all suspicious cash movements in the country and report such occurrences on a "real-time basis" to the Income Tax department.

"The Commission desires that real time information on Suspicious Transaction Reports and withdrawal of cash exceeding the specified limits from any bank accounts maintained within the poll going states/UT during the election may be reported promptly to the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigation) of the concerned states/UT, through CBDT in order to facilitate them to take action as per the law," the EC said in its letter to the FIU.

In a separate letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the EC has asked it to liaise with the I-T officials who have activated Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at major airports in the poll-going states.

The EC has also asked the Border Security Force (BSF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), guarding the country's 'open' borders with Bangladesh and Nepal respectively, to increase vigil and "facilitate seizure" of suspected cash and liquor by I-T and other enforcement agencies.

The poll body has also asked the Commissioner of Security (Civil Aviation) to keep a tab on helicopter and aircrafts operations in these states.

"It is requested that passengers boarding helicopters or private planes from all airports of the states/UT may also be subject to security checks by the authorities in the same manner, as it is done for other passengers," the Commission said.

(Agencies)