Early Start to Splurge

Par­ties an­nounce can­di­dates in ad­vance to beat elec­tion watch­dog’s spend­ing rules

India Today - - NATION - By Shafi Rah­man

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.

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