Telegraph India
New Delhi

New Delhi, Dec. 9: What Mamata Banerjee preaches, her MPs don’t practise.

Two Trinamul Congress members of Parliament — Kabir Suman and C.M. Jatua — have not submitted their campaign expense details to the Election Commission even seven months after results were declared, says a report by poll watchdog National Election Watch (NEW).

Under commission rules, a candidate must report expenses to the returning officer concerned on an affidavit every three days from the date of filing nomination papers till the campaigning is on.

According to the NEW report compiled with data provided by the poll panel, Suman, the singer MP from Jadavpur, and Jatua, who won from Mathurapur (South 24-Parganas), are the only ones among the 540-odd Lok Sabha members who haven’t filed their expense details.

In the bitter run-up to the 2011 Bengal elections, where both Trinamul and the ruling Left Front have seized every chance to slight the other, the report could arm the Marxists with a weapon against Mamata, who has repeatedly stressed on transparency.

One of her pet phrases has been sachchha sarkar, or transparent government.

Neither Suman nor junior I&B minister Jatua could be reached for comment despite repeated attempts. In Calcutta, Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi said: “We are not aware of this but (if true) they should submit the details at the earliest.”

Under Election Commission rules, if any candidate fails to submit details of expenses within 30 days of results, the panel sends a notice. The candidate has to explain the delay. If the details are still not submitted, the candidate can be barred from contesting polls for three years.

“The problem is there is no definite time period within which the candidate has to reply. The commission’s hands are tied,” NEW national co-ordinator Anil Bairwal said. “Also, barring a person for three years is ridiculous when the next elections are five years away.”

Bairwal, however, didn’t appear to have taken into account that a state poll can be held within three years of a general election, as is the case with Bengal where elections are due in 2011.

Former Mumbai police chief Julio Rebeiro, a member of the poll watchdog, said parties must “also be held accountable” for candidates who have made a “mockery of democracy” by not declaring their campaign expenses.

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