Meetings galore… but what about the expenditure? Well almost nothing says “their audit” report? Can it be true…? The monitoring of election expenditure by EC has come under scanner after Madhya Pradesh Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms analysed expenditure records of more than 200 MLAs during the Assembly elections of 2013.

Eight MLAs had declared that they didn’t spend anything on public meetings, processions etc, a claim which political experts find it hard to believe. The MLAS concerned, run across the party lines. They include Rajendra Singh, Nishank Jain, Dinesh Ahirwar of the Congress while Hemant Khandelwal, Narayan Prasad, Chandrabhan Singh, Deewan Singh of the BJP and Balvir Singh of the BSP.
Surprisingly, there were 87 MLAs who didn’t spend a single paisa on campaigning through electronic and print media. The names in this category include CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh.

Gyan Singh, BJP MLA from Bandhavgarh contested election without spending anything on vehicles or he did not use any vehicle at all throughout his election campaign. This is revealed from his expenses he had submitted to the election commission.  While Gyan Singh had spent zero amount on vehicles there are 4 other MLAs, all from BJP who spent less than 10% of the total expenses declared on vehicles. Usha Thakur, Malini Gaud and Mahendra Hardia from Indore and Umashankar Gupta of Bhopal spent less than 10% on vehicles during entire electioneering.

MLAs expenditure on campaigning material like banner, poster, handbill, video, audio cassettes, CDs, loudspeakers, installation of gates, arches, cutouts are dubious considering the lowest amount spent by MLA Hardeep Singh Dang of the Congress. He spent only Rs 15,267 on such campaigning material.  Not campaigning through electronic and print media could be hard to digest up to some extent but contesting election without campaign workers is highly unrealistic. 41 MLAs from Madhya Pradesh did not spend any amount of campaign workers.

Kailash Vijayvargiya, Sudarshan Gupta, Mukesh Nayak, ministers Rampal Singh, Gopal Bhargava and Umashankar Gupta are among those 41 lucky MLAs who did not spend anything on their campaign workers.  Rolly Shivhare, local convener of the ADR, commented that EC is least bothered about monitoring of election expenses and is highly dependent on CAs who file the reports. They even do not cross check the expenditure report submitted to them. They only look at them when someone files complaint in the matter.

Chief Electoral Officer, VL Kanta Rao, had said a day ago that observers from centre and state would keep eye on all things including expenses. A team of expenditure observers is formed separately to monitor expenses incurred and in case of any violation action would be taken immediately.

MONEY MONEY MATTERS

There were 87 MLAs who didn’t spend a single paisa on campaigning through electronic and print media

Gyan Singh had spent zero amount on vehicles.

There are 4 other MLAs, all from BJP, who spent less than 10% of the total expenses declared on vehicles

Usha Thakur, Malini Gaud and Mahendra Hardia from Indore and Umashankar Gupta of Bhopal spent less than 10% on vehicles during entire electioneering

MLAs expenditure on campaigning material like banner, poster, handbill, video, audio cassettes, CDs, loudspeakers, installation of gates, arches, cutouts are dubious considering the lowest amount spent by MLA Hardeep Singh Dang of the Congress. He spent only Rs 15,267 on such campaigning material.

What does the rule say

According to the EC document of Election Expenditure Monitoring 2011, (5.5.1), any candidate or his representative, who applies for permission for a public meeting or a rally shall also submit an expenditure plan in a prescribed format along with the application for permission. In the event of public rally or meeting by the star campaigner, if the candidate or his election agent shares the dais with the star campaigner/another dignitary or banners and posters with his name or photograph are displayed at the site of the rally or his name is mentioned by the star Campaigner, then the entire expenditure on that rally other than the travel expenses on that star campaigner should be added to the candidate’s expenses.

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