Analysis of expenses filed by 537 candidates goes against the demand to raise the ceiling
Ashish Mehta | August 1, 2014
The average expense of winning candidates in the recent Lok Sabha elections was Rs 40.33 lakh, according to an analysis carried out by the National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Going through the election expense statements submitted by 537 MPs, NEW and ADR found that 176 MPs (33%) declared election expenses of less than 50% of the expense limit in their constituency. On the other hand, there is a lone MP, Gourav Gogoi of the Congress from Kaliabor constituency in Assam, who declared election expenditure more than the prescribed expense limit (Rs. 82.40 lakh, which is 18% above the expense limit).
This “under-spending” is a puzzle. The expenditure limits for Lok Sabha elections were raised this year from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh for each constituency in bigger states like UP, MP and Maharashtra and from Rs 22 lakh to Rs 54 lakh in smaller states like Goa, because the parties and candidates repeatedly argued that the existing limits were ridiculously low and needed to be raised even for inflation adjustment. Now, it transpires that there was maybe no need to revise the limit, going by what the winning candidates have declared.
The average expenditure, Rs 40.33 lakh, comes to just 58% of the expense limit.
Given that the expenditure statements of six MPs are yet to be available, NEW and ADR have meanwhile recommended stricter norms. A press release from the two organizations said, “The candidate is required to file the election expenditure statement within 30 days of the results. The deadline for submitting the election expenditure statements for Lok Sabha 2014 was June 16. The statements are uploaded on the CEO websites within 72 hours of the receipt of the statement. It was observed that the election expenditure statements of the candidates were not uploaded on the CEO websites till significantly after the deadline. It is recommended that the Abstract Expenditure Statement (Annexure 15) of the candidates is uploaded on the CEO websites within 72 hours of the receipt of the statement.”
Among other highlights of the analysis
* The second highest expense (after Gourav Gogoi) is by Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava of BJP from Bharuch (Gujarat) with an expense of Rs 67.31 lakh, followed by Saugata Roy of Trinamool (Dum Dum, West Bengal) with an expense of Rs 65.53 lakh.
* The lowest expenses were claimed by Shyama Charan Gupta of BJP from Allahabad, UP (Rs. 39,36), followed by Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati of TDP from Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh (Rs. 4.10 lakh) and Vanaroja R of AIADMK from Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu (Rs. 5.48 lakh).
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