Thursday, February 29, 2024

EC to raise poll expense cap to Rs 70 lakh

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New Delhi: Candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls will be able to spend more on their campaign with the Election Commission considering raising the expenditure cap up to Rs 70 lakh per contestant from Rs 40 lakh now.

According to highly placed sources, the EC has worked out a formula based on Cost Inflation Index by virtue of which the expenditure limit for candidates contesting a Parliamentary constituency will go up from the current Rs 40 lakh in bigger states to Rs 70 lakh this time around.

Smaller states like Goa have less expenditure limits as candidates have lesser areas to cover during campaign.

As per the formula worked out by the Commission, the rise for Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies will be to the extent of 1.75 times the current figures, sources told PTI.

While EC is yet to write to the Law Ministry for raising the expenditure limits, the sources said discussions have been held in this regard and a final decision in this regard will be taken this week.

The enhanced limits come in the wake of political parties making a strong pitch in this regard at a recent meeting with top officials of the poll body. Parties have argued that current limits were too meagre compared to the rise in prices on account of inflation.

For Assembly constituencies, however, the maximum proposed expenditure limit is likely to be Rs 28 lakh for bigger states against the present limit of Rs 16 lakh.

The limit is much less for smaller states like Goa and some hill states and those of the North East.

The expenditure limit for each Parliamentary constituency in the 2009 Lok Sabha election was Rs 25 lakh for bigger states and was revised in 2011 to Rs 40 lakh.

Sources say candidates in their expenses returns filed with the poll body have been under reporting.

At present, a majority of the candidates have declared barely half the expenditure they are allowed to incur by the EC, the sources add.

Justifying enhanced limits of poll expenditure, EC officials say rising inflation needed to be factored into expense caps.

Officials also hope the move will encourage candidates to declare their poll expenses truthfully in the interest of greater transparency.

Sources said the raise in poll expenses also come in the wake of demands from states like Nagaland, where there are 60 Assembly constituencies in one Parliamentary seat.

Candidates have argued that they have to travel far and wide to cover all segments of their constituency and thus there was need to raise the limits. (PTI)

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