Poll panel slaps notice on Munde

Poll panel slaps notice on Munde

The Election Commission of India has served a notice on senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde, asking him to explain why he should not be disqualified from the Lok Sabha for not lodging a true account of his election expenses during the last general election as required by the law.

This comes after the BJP leader recently stated at a function in Mumbai that he spent Rs 8 crore on his poll campaign in the last general election which was much above the prescribed limit of Rs 25 lakh.

The commission, which initiated a probe in the wake of his June 27 statement, noted that Munde had filed his election expenses with the district election officer on June 8, 2009, showing an expenditure of Rs 19,36,922 supported by an affidavit.

“Why you should not be disqualified under Section 10 A of the R P Act, 1951, for your failure to maintain a true and correct account of your election expenses as required by the law, for not lodging the true account of your election expenditure by suppressing/undervaluing the said expenditure, and thus having failed to lodge your account of election expenses in the manner required by the law,” the poll panel said in its notice to the BJP leader.

It sought Munde to explain the reasons for the “said default” in writing, which should reach the commission within 20 days from the date of receipt of the notice.

“In case you fail to do so, within the time stipulated above, you will render yourself liable, without any further reference to you in the matter, for disqualification under Section 10 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament for a period of three years from the date of order of the commission declaring you to be so disqualified,” the poll panel added.

The Congress demanded his disqualification from the Lok Sabha on the issue. Munde, a Member of Parliament from Beed in Maharashtra, is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Munde on Thursday said at a function in Mumbai that he had spent Rs 8 crore in his poll campaign in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. He even dared the EC to take action against him for his statement, saying that he would not mind his disqualification as the elections were only a few months away.

The prescribed limit for expenditure on poll campaign by a candidate in a parliamentary constituency under the law is Rs 25 lakh.

Saying that Munde violated the laws by spending a whopping Rs 7.75 crore more, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, an MP from north Mumbai, demanded his disqualification from Parliament.

“I will urge the EC to call Munde for enquiry and take action against him,” he said.
The BJP stood by Munde and maintained that he sought to highlight an “important and valid” issue of government funding of elections but his statement was being misconstrued.

“Munde has raised a very valid issue of government funding of elections and also the rising expenditure in polls. I think he has flagged one important discussion in the country. If somebody has misconstrued that it is his own experience, this is what leaders are observing across the country,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

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