Early Start to Splurge
Parties announce candidates in advance to beat election watchdog’s spending rules
Parties have already started announcing their candidates’ list for next year’s Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, creating fresh concerns about the role of money power as the Election Commission ( EC) will start monitoring election funds only after filing of nominations. With candidates starting to spend money in the constituencies, EC has now decided to “look into the issue from all angles”.
The Congress has declared 135 candidates for elections to the 403member Assembly due in April next year. The Samajwadi Party ( SP) has released a list of 202 candidates while the CPI has announced 30. The BJP, which has decided to go it alone in the polls, is expected to announce its first list this month. The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party ( BSP) has informally directed its candidates to start campaigning.
“The Commission should start accounting expenses right from the day the candidates start campaigning instead of the day they file their nominations,” says Mohan Singh, SP leader. BSP MP Ambeth Rajan says that the current accounting regime will leave much of the expenses unreported. “We are examining this issue from all angles,” Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi told INDIA TODAY.
Though parties never tire of pointing out that the expense limit is too low, candidates routinely underreport expenses. An analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms of the last Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Puducherry and Assam found no MLA declaring they spent more than the limit.