Business Line
New Delhi

Candidates fighting Parliamentary and Assembly elections will now be able to spend more on their campaign. The Cabinet on Friday approved a proposal from the Election Commission to raise the expenditure limit.

The limit of election expenditure incurred by a candidate for Parliamentary constituencies has been raised to ₹70 lakh from ₹40 lakh in bigger States, a statement issued by the Government said.

However for smaller States, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, the expenditure limit would be ₹54 lakh against ₹27-35 lakh earlier.

The revision has been done “due to the increase in the number of electors, polling stations as well as the increase in the cost inflation index,” the statement said.

In the case of Assembly constituencies, the ceiling has been raised to ₹28 lakh in all States, except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Puducherry, where it will be ₹20 lakh. Earlier, the limit was ₹14 lakh for the bigger States and ₹8 lakh for the smaller ones.

The enhanced expense limits comes in the wake of political parties making a strong pitch in this regard at a recent meeting with top officials of the Election Commission. Parties had argued that the current limits were too meagre compared with the rise in prices on account of inflation.

The other reason for revising the poll limit is under-reporting by candidates. It is believed that most of the candidates declare barely half the expenditure they are allowed to incur by the EC.

Lauding the decision, the Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR), an independent organisation working for poll reforms, said: “Our analysis of election expenditure declared by MLAs in the recently concluded five Assembly elections shows that, on an average, the winning candidate spent only 51 per cent of the expense limit set,” adding that “it would be interesting to know what the Lok Sabha candidates would declare now that the election expenditure limit has been increased.”

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