The Indian Republic

While a clampdown on exorbitant spending on election campaigns has been one of the major strategies to ensure fairer elections, analysis reveals that there is discordance between what political parties claim they have given their candidates for contesting, and what candidates claimed to have received from their parties.

A report by the Association for Democratic Reforms, based on an analysis of 388 MPs, culls out the differences in the declarations made by political parties and their MPs on the lumpsum amounts granted and received as part of election expenditure during the Lok Sabha elections of 2009. While out of 277 MPs from national parties, 75 claimed to have received a total of Rs 7.46 crores, their parties declared that they had given Rs 14.19 crores to 138 MPs. That makes it a difference of Rs 6.72 crores, and 63 candidates.

Among the regional parties, 15 MPs from 12 different parties belonging to 9 different states have mentioned various amounts as received from their respective parties which do not match with the affidavits submitted by the parties. Among them is West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who contested from Kolkata Dakshin. While her affidavit claimed she received Rs 7.50 lakhs from her party AITC, the party’s submission puts the figure at zero. Similarly Mulayam Singh Yadav’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav claimed to have received Rs 21 lakhs from his party, while the party put a ‘nil’ to his name in its statement.

A further party wise breakup yields that of the 123 MPs to whom the Indian National Congress (INC) declared to have given lumpsum amounts for election expenditure, 81 MPs declared ‘nil’ for the amount received from the party. Among them former Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee who was given Rs. 15 lakhs as declared by the party. Others who declared having received nothing from the party for election expenses include ministers like Sriprakash Jaiswal (Minister of Coal), Dinsha Patel (Minister of Mines), P.Chidambaram (Minister of Finance) among 23 others, who according to the party’s declaration received a total of Rs 2.35 crores or an average of Rs 10 lakhs for their election campaign. There were also eight MPs whose declarations of funds received from the party were more than what the party declared.

In some cases, the difference in the declarations is huge. For instance Minister of State for Home Affairs Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, elected from Kushinagar (UP) declared that he had received just Rs 3,500 from his party to contest the election, the party’s own declaration puts the figure at Rs 10 lakhs- almost 29 times more than what the MP declared.

Similarly, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports who contested from Alwar (Rajasthan) declared that he had received Rs 18 lakhs from his party while the party put the figure at Rs 10 lakhs.

Trumping that figure is Kamal Nath, Minister for Urban who fought from Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh) and declared that he had received no money from his party to contest. The Congress statement puts Rs 15 lakhs against his name.

Only 25 MPs made declarations of grants identical with those made by their parties. The list includes Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Meenakshi Natrajan, Salman Khurshid, among others.

The BJP reported to have finically supported not even one winning candidate. Yet 25 candidates claimed that they had received a total of Rs 2.75 crores for their campaigns.

Among the biggest spenders on an individual candidate was the CPM which divided Ra 144.60 lakhs among 10 MPs and a further Rs 20.68 lakhs among three MPs.

The Congress handed out more Rs 10 lakh grants with 116 MPs receiving the same while two MPs received Rs 15 lakhs each, and one had Rs 25 lakhs for his campaign.

The spending limit for the Lok Sabha elections varies. Thus while it is the lowest, just Rs .16 lakhs for the Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep constituency, in bigger states like UP and Bihar it is Rs 40 lakhs.

All recognised political parties are required to submit a statement of election expenditure to the Election Commission within 90 days of the completion of LS elections while all contesting candidates are required to submit their expenditure statement within 30 days of completion of elections. The expenditure statements of political parties contain details of ‘lumpsum amount given to the candidates’ and the statements of candidates provide information on ‘lumpsum amount received from the parties’. Yet that deadline is not met. Only 36 of the 53 recognised parties which contested the General Elections to Lok Sabha, 2009 have submitted their statements to date.

While the Election Commission has kept a strict watch on polling expenditure, these discrepancies indicate that there is need to track the details of donors, and monitor every form of money transfer or else shadowy exchanges of wealth will continue to dominate our elections. - See more at:

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