Mangaluru, May 05, 2018: The Rs 28 lakh cap set by the Election Commission on the spending per candidate contesting the assembly elections is turning out to be a big farce. Local leaders of national political parties have confessed that they are compelled to spend at least Rs 2.5crore – Rs 3 crore per constituency this election season, even as candidates submit their expenditure on a regular basis to the vigilance committee for accountability.
“The Rs 28 lakh cap per candidate/constituency is a joke. We need to organize events, handle the expenses of our national and state leaders coming down for campaigning, and place advertisements on television, print and online media. We also need to spend on paid news. These apart, keeping our ground level workers in good humour alone costs us a fortune. Abiding by the Election Commission’s cap isn’t practically possible,” said a politician.
A leader from a national party said, “it is impossible” to win the elections if a party respects the Rs 28 lakh limit. A notable figure in political circles said it is practically impossible to even win a gram panchayat election with Rs 28 lakh.
Several members and workers from major political parties whom TOI spoke to said the parties they campaign for provide them money and sumptuous food. “Liquor, too, keeps flowing,” he said.
A grassroots level member of a major political party, who is a respected figure among the party workers, said each worker has to be paid at least Rs 1,000 per day. “Slightly influential people who campaign need to be paid more. Their time is valuable. Also, their demand is justified, as they keep aside their personal work and bear the extreme heat and humidity all day long,” he said.
When information on cash flow has come directly from the horse’s mouth, the question that arises is if the vigilance body is conned.
“Our teams check the bank details of candidates. These teams visit the offices of the respective returning officers and constantly check for updates. The accounts team also maintains a shadow register to further keep a check of their expenditure,” additional deputy commissioner M L Vaishali said.
When asked how the parties had been outsmarting the vigilance units, she said, “We cannot predict how they do it.”
Providing a clue, a worker of a prominent party said they either follow a credit system where payment to service providers is made after the monitoring body ceases to keep a vigil, or the richer members of a party are asked to pay, in return for favours in some or the other form.