With no guidelines to monitor the expenditures of the Senate elections,candidates have indulged in a show of money during the campaigning process this year.
While most other elections have a cap on the amount to be spent by each candidate contesting the election,the Panjab University Senate elections are an exception. The candidates are permitted to spend as much as they can afford to on the campaigning process. D P Randhawa,one of the candidates,said that he spent about two lakh rupees on campaigning as that much is required to reach all the voters. He added that this was despite ensuring that he would be able get the cheapest market rates on printed materials like cards and banners. Some other candidates also admitted that the election expenses tend to be in lakhs for most of them.
According to many,this years elections have seen much publicity by way of huge advertisements and banners. Ashok Goyal,who has already been elected to the Senate from the faculties constituency,said,It is for the first time that such huge advertisements have been seen for Senate elections. Barring a few who are sponsored candidates of some institutions,the other candidates are unable to spend this kind of money.
Anu Chatrath,another candidate and a sitting senator,alleged,It is very difficult for individuals to contest the senate elections against candidates who are backed by institutions like the DAV management,who have been spending a lot. She added that is a dire need for some regulations to be made regarding the expenses,which will be in favour of all candidates.
One of the four official candidates fielded by the DAV management committee,Satish Sharma,explained the expenditures as justified,in view of the contributions made by the group. There are more than 700 DAV institutions in the region and we reach out to even those remote areas where the government is unable to reach. This is why we show interest in the Senate elections,so that we have a say in policy formation. Unlike previous years,the DAV team has fielded four candidates this year,instead of three.
According to some candidates,it is difficult to fix an expenditure cap for these elections,as the geographical area of the electorate is vast. The expenditure,according to the candidates,is bound to increase as the candidates have to reach out to voters across Chandigarh,Punjab,Haryan,New Delhi,Himachal Pradesh,Jammu and Uttarakhand. It will also become an added expenditure for the University to appoint a regulatory authority for monitoring the expenses. Ashok Goyal explained that if the voters list is revised,it would reduce much of the candidates expenditures.
Apart from the candidates,the University also spends much money and manpower on the senate elections. The registrar,A K Bhandari,informed that this time,rupees 80 lakh was set as the budget for senate elections by the University.
Booth capturing reported
The University Registrar,A K Bhandari,who is the returning officer for the Senate elections,said that incidents of booth capturing were reported from Bathinda,Taran Taran and Bhatti. He added that written complaints have been asked for from these booths and the action required to be taken will be decided thereafter.