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The election commission has upped the expense limit for Lok Sabha elections from Rs40 lakh to Rs70 lakh per candidate in big states. But 129 or 30% out of 437 MPs spent Rs14.62 lakh or 59% of the expense limit during the last general election
The Indian government has cleared a proposal by Election Commission to increase the expenditure limit for Lok Sabha elections to Rs70 lakh from Rs40 lakh per candidate in big states. But does it have anything to do with the reality? During the last general election, about 129 members of Parliament (MPs) declared election expenses of less than 50% of expense limit. This raises a question on the need to increase expenditure limit without taking into consideration the blatant misuse of black money in elections.
According to an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), out of 437 MPs who submitted their election expenditure statements, on an average MPs spent of Rs14.62 lakh or about 59% of the average expense limit in 2009.
Professor Trilochan Sastry, founder of ADR, said, “Raising the ceiling does not address the real issues. We need more transparency in the funding and source of funding, along with penalties for not being transparent. Everyone knows about the huge amount of black money in elections. We need to curb this blatant misuse of black money in elections. In summary, none of the major concerns are addressed by the Cabinet decision to raise the ceiling.”
The government has raised the expenditure limit to Rs70 lakh for each Lok Sabha constituency in bigger states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka, and to Rs54 lakh from Rs22 lakh in smaller states like Goa on par with other hilly and north eastern states. The government also cleared the proposal to raise expenditure limits for assembly elections, with a maximum of Rs28 lakh and a minimum of Rs20 lakh in North Eastern and hill states.
The election expenditure statements submitted by MPs include details of expenses on public meeting and processions, campaigning through electronic and print media, expense on campaign workers, expenses on vehicles used and expense on campaign materials.
1. Less than 50% of the Limit: Candidates have constantly claimed that the election expenditure limit set is very low. However, based on the election expense declarations of 437 MPs analysed from Lok Sabha, 2009 to the Election Commission, 129 MPs (30%) have declared election expenses of less than 50% of the expense limit in their constituency.
2. Average Election Expenses: Based on the election expense declarations of 437 MPs from Lok Sabha 2009 to the ECI, the average amount of money spent by them in the elections is only about Rs14.62 lakh, which is 59% of the expense limit.
3. Election Expenses funded by Political Parties: 317 MPs (73%) declared that in the expenditure incurred by them, none of it was funded by the political party which fielded him/her. 120 MPs (27%) declared that a part of their election expenditure was funded by the political party and out of these, 15 MPs (3%) declared that all of their expenditure was funded by the political party which fielded him/her.
4. Party-wise Election Expenses funded by Political Parties: Among the MPs who were funded (partially or fully) by political parties, 35 MPs from BJP had declared an average funding from the political party of Rs5.08 lakh (36% of their average election expenditure). 30 MPs from INC have declared an average funding from the political party of Rs5.61 lakh (36% of their average election expenditure).
5. Expenditure more than the Expense Limit: Two MPs declared election expenditure more than the prescribed expense limit. Premdas of SP from Etawah Constituency, Uttar Pradesh declared an election expenditure of Rs57.39 lakh (230% of the expense limit) and Akhilesh Yadav of SP from Kannauj Constituency with expenses of Rs26.73 lakhs (107% of the expense limit).
6. State-wise Average Election Expenses: The highest average election expenditure declared in a state is Tripura (two Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.79 lakh (75% of the expense limit) followed by Jharkhand (Seven Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.73 lakh (75% of expense limit), Uttarakhand (five Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.49 lakh (74% of expense limit) and Assam (14 Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs17.77 lakh (71% of expense limit).
7. Party-wise Average Election Expenses: The party wise average election expenses shows that the average spending for 161 MPs of Indian National Congress (INC) is Rs14.38 lakh (59% of the average expense limit), for 91 MPs of BJP is Rs14.43 lakh (59% of the average expense limit), for 21 MPs of SP is Rs19.48 lakh (78% of the average expense limit) and for 19 MPs of BSP is Rs14.72 lakh (59% of the average expense limit).
8. Top 3 MPs with highest Election Expenses: The maximum expense of about Rs57.39 lakh (230% of the expense limit) has been declared by Premdas of SP from Etawah constituency, Uttar Pradesh followed by Akhilesh Yadav of SP from Kannauj constituency, with an expense of Rs26.73 lakh (or 107% of the expense limit) and Yashbanta Narayan Singh Laguri of BJD from Keonjhar constituency, Orissa with an expense of Rs24.97 lakh (or 100% of the expense limit)
9. MPs with lowest Election Expenses: The minimum expense of about Rs1.31 lakhs (or 5% of the expense limit) has been declared by CM Chang of NPF from Nagaland constituency. He is followed by Ravneet Singh of INC from Anandpur Sahib constituency, Punjab with election expenses of about Rs1.75 lakh (or 7% of the expense limit) and Muhammed Hamdulla Sayeed AB of INC from Lakshwadeep constituency with expenses of Rs2.02 lakh (or 20% of the expense limit).
10. Expense on Public Meetings and Processions: Out of the 437 MPs analysed, 33 (8%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on public meetings, processions etc.
11. Expense on Campaigning through electronic/print media: 123 (28%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on campaigning through electronic/print media.
12. Expense on Campaign Workers: 418 (96%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on campaign workers.
13. Expense on Vehicles used: 22 (5%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on vehicles Used.
14. Expense on Campaign Materials and Erection of gates, arches, banners etc.: 21 (5%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on Campaign Materials and erection of gates, arches, banners etc.
The Election Commission send a proposal to Law Ministry to make paid news an electoral offence
Election Commission has proposed to the union government to make paid news an electoral offence even as it continues to tackle it itself by monitoring the expenditures of candidates.
Addressing a press conference, to announce the Lok Sabha poll schedule, chief election commissioner VS Sampath said paid news has three aspects – print media, electronic media and expenditure by candidates.
“Since there is no law (to deal with paid news), we have made a proposal to the Law Ministry to make it an electoral offence,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said, the Election Commission deals with the malaise by keeping a close watch on the expenditures of the candidates.
“Election Commission is doing what is under its control. We have monitoring committees in districts and states. We add the expenditure to the expenditure account of the candidate concerned,” Sampath said.
With regard to complaints about paid news in print media, he said the cases are referred to the Press Council of India.
As far as complaints regarding paid news in electronic media are concerned, such cases are referred to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA), he said.
To a question regarding demands for banning opinion polls, the CEC said it is for Parliament to decide.
“We never hesitate to use powers that we can. However, the issue of opinion polls is to be dealt with by the lawmakers. They have the legislative competence,” he added.
The issue of banning opinion polls has been hanging fire since 2004.
Lok Sabha elections will be held from 7th April to 12th May spread over nine days in the highest number of polling days so far involving an electorate of 81.4 crore
India's mammoth Lok Sabha election will start on April 7, the Election Commission announced Tuesday, kicking off a race that will pit charismatic Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the ruling Congress party.
Lok Sabha elections will be held from 7th April to 12th May spread over nine days in the highest number of polling days so far involving an electorate of 81.4 crore, the Election Commission said.
Counting of votes in all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies will be held on a single day on 16th May, Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath announced at a press conference
Instant feedback to voters through VVPAT
Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system. VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for electronic voting machines that allows voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended and can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.
Under VVPAT, a printer-like apparatus is linked to Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). When a vote is cast, a receipt is generated showing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate. It confirms the vote and the voter can verify the details. The receipt, once viewed, goes inside a container linked to the EVM and can only be accessed by the election officers in rarest of rare cases. The system allows a voter to challenge his or her vote on basis of the paper receipt for the first time.
flanked by ECs HS Brahma and SNA Zaidi.
Assembly elections will also be held simultaneously in the states of Andhra Pradesh, including Telangana region, Odisha and Sikkim.
Sampath was at pains to clarify that it is not a nine-phased polling and the whole exercise will be over in 72 days, three days less than the last elections.
The model code of conduct for parties and governments comes into force with immediate effect, he said.
The first polling day on 7th April will cover six Lok Sabha constituencies in two states, while the second on 9th April will cover seven constituencies in five states.
About 92 constituencies will go to polls in 14 states on the third day on 10th April while a small number of five constituencies in three states will be covered on the fourth day on 12th April.
The largest chunk of 122 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in 13 states on 17th April, the fifth day of poll, while the sixth day will witness polling in 117 seats in 12 states on 24th April.
The seventh day of polling on 30th April will choose representatives in 89 constituencies spread over nine states and the eighth day on 7th May will cover 64 seats in seven states.
Polling will conclude on the ninth day on 12th May with elections in 41 constituencies in three states.
Andhra Pradesh, which has 42 Lok Sabha seats, will go to polls on 30th April and 7th May. Elections in the respective assembly segments will be held simultaneously.
The first day of polling on 30th April will cover 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats in the Telangana region and the second on 7th May will cover 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 Assembly seats in the Seemandhra region.
Sampath explained that irrespective of the appointed day for the creation of the new state of Telangana, elections will be held in the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies as they exist today.
The corresponding Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies would go to the respective states once the bifurcation process of the state is complete.
The total electorate in the country as per final published E-rolls with 1 January 2014 as the cut-off date is about 81.45 crore compared to 71.3 crore in 2009, an increase of more than 10 crore electors.
Over 2.3 crore new electors in this age group of 18 to 19 years, constituting 2.88% of total electors have been added. The last election had seen an increase of 0.75% in this age group.
The number of electors enrolled as "Others" gender that comprising transgender is 28,314. There are also 11,844 overseas electors in the current electoral rolls and another 13.28 lakh service electors.
Arunachal Pradesh will have single day polling on 9th April to cover two constituencies, while Assam with 14 Lok Sabha seats will have a three-day poll on 7, 12 and 24th April.
Bihar with 40 constituencies will have polling on six days beginning 10, 17, 24 and 30th April and 7 and 12th May.
Naxal-hit state of Chhattisgarh will witness a three-day poll on 10, 17 and 24th April to elect 11 MPs, while the small state of Goa with two constituencies will have a single day polling on 17th April.
Gujarat (26 seats), Haryana (10) and Himachal Pradesh (4) will have a single day polling on 30th April 30, 10th April and 7th May, respectively. Kerala (20) and Karnataka (28) will also have a single day polling on 10 and 17th April respectively.
Jammu and Kashmir with six Lok Sabha seats will witness polling on five days on 10, 17, 24 and 30th April and 7th May, while Jharkhand with 14 seats will go to polls on three days - 10, 17 and 24th April.
29 seats in Madhya Pradesh and 48 seats in Maharashtra will go to polls on three days -10, 17 and 24th April.
Two seats in Manipur will go to polls on 9 and 17th April while its neighbours Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1) and Nagaland (1) will go to polls on a single day on 9th April.
Odisha (21 LS seats) will have a two day polling on 10 and 17th April to elect 10 and 11 constituencies respectively. On the same days, assembly elections will be held on 70 and 77 assembly segments, respectively.
Punjab will have a single-day polling on 30th April to elect 13 MPs, while Tamil Nadu (39 seats) and Puducherry (1) and will go to polls on 24th April. Uttarakhand (5) will go to polls on 7th May.
Voters in Rajasthan with 25 seats will exercise their franchise on 17 and 24th April to elect 20 on the first day and 5 MPs on the other day.
Sikkim's lone Lok Sabha seat will go to polls on 12th April while simultaneously electing its 32-member Assembly.
Tripura with two seats will witness a two-day poll on 7 and 12th April while heartland Uttar Pradesh will choose 80 MPs on six days on 10, 17, 24 and 30th April and 7 and 12th May.
West Bengal will go to polls on five days to elect 42 MPs on 17, 24 and 30th April and 7 and 12th May.
NCT of Delhi with seven seats will have a single day poll on 10th April. Likewise the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep will choose their lone representatives on 10th April, while Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu will elect their sole representatives on 30th April.