Poll spending cap raised to Rs 40 lakh

Poll spending cap raised to Rs 40 lakh

Just months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls the Election Commission has decided to increase the electoral expenditure from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 40 lakh per candidate. 

At a briefing on Thursday, Joint Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal Saibal Burman also said vigilance over expenditure in the polls would be stepped up.

Burman explained that the increase of Rs 15 lakh had come into effect in 2011 and had been in force for Lok Sabha by-elections. He said this was the first time it will be applicable to general elections.

Burman pointed out that despite the Rs 15 lakh increase in expenses, many political parties were not satisfied.

Amit Roy Chowdhury, officer on special duty in charge of poll expenses, said, “The parties are demanding a further rise on the ceiling of poll expenditure for the coming Lok Sabha polls.”

“They have placed their demand during a meeting with the Election Commission in Delhi in last week of January,” said Chowdhury, while talking to reporters at the EC office in Kolkata.  Chowdhury explained the machinery to be used by the EC as it steps up its watch on poll spending by candidates and parties.

“The EC will deploy Flying Squad, Static Surveillance Team and Video Surveillance Team, which will work under the Expenditure Observers appointed by the Commission,” he said. The observers will also create awareness among candidates to prevent the misuse of expenses.

“We will soon launch a campaign through the media so that candidates across India get to know about the need for the ceiling,” he said.

No political parties made formal comments on the expenditure limit. However, a senior Trinamool leader said rising prices had made it impossible to keep electioneering budgets so limited. He said they would discuss the issue with the EC, before the decision is finalised. A Left party leader said the party is fine with the ceiling, although a further hike would make it easier.

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