EC uploads netas' daily expenses on its website

They spend Rs 8K to Rs 1 lakh on padyatras, groceries

Campaigning for elections is not just about distributing pamphlets and sporting party badges anymore. 

The expenditure list of Ruby Yadav, an indpendent candidate from South Delhi, shows Rs 10,000 spent on “audio CD for campaigning” on a particular day and “grocery” for Rs 8,800 on another.

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Delhi chief electoral office is updating its website on the daily expenditure of politicians. The scanned copies of the bills are now available in the “day-to-day candidates’ register” in the EC website for “public viewing”. Currently, each poll candidate can spend up to Rs 70 lakh.

The bills include transporation cost, money spent on handbills, loudspeakers, roadshows and “labour charge of halwai”, among other miscellaneous expenses.While BJP candidate from South Delhi Ramesh Bidhuri’s bill shows Rs 1,19,900 spent on 18 “padyatras and meetings” on March 30 and Rs 10,670 on “tea, etc”, his rival from AAP Devinder Sehrawat has spent Rs 12,345 on “cooking gas” on March 31.

Journalist-turned politician Ashutosh of AAP has availed e-rickshaws for campaigning on three days since March 28, which amounts to over Rs 21,000. However, Hari Om Sharma -— the Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate from Chandi Chowk constituency has so far chosen to campaign in either a Honda City or a BMW. Each ride in the Honda City and BMW has been billed at Rs 1,825. 

“I travel in a second-hand BMW, which I have borrowed from a friend. As long as you work for the people, it doesn’t matter what you are travelling in,” said Sharma.

“Publicity items, including CDs” bought for Rs 1,76,198 on March 28 feature in the expense list of Congress’s Kapil Sibal, who has won two-terms from Chandni Chowk. On March 28, BJP’s Harsh Vardhan, pitted against Sibal, has spent Rs 1,42,800 on “pamphlets, facemasks”.

Sunita Chaudhary, who is contesting from the New Delhi constituency on a J&K National Panthers Party ticket, is an auto-driver. Her expense list on April 2 shows only an amount of Rs 43 spent on CNG. Yesteryear tinseltown actor Biswajit Chatterjee of the TMC has mostly spent on transportation and “nasta” as per his bills. 

While BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi’s nine padyatras on March 30 amounted to over Rs 26,000, Ashish Khetan of AAP has spent Rs 10,000 on autorickshaw fare in two days.

According to Anil Verma of Association of Democratic Reforms, an organisation working for transparency in Indian politics, “Some politicians do not admit having spent on volunteers and transportation. We all know that more money than the amount allotted to each candidate is being spent for campaigning.”

“It is, however, a novel effort by the EC to feed the data immediately on its website for public viewing,” Verma said.

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