They had set out with a message that they are the aam aadmi (common man), but a look at their expense chart in the recently concluded Lok Sabha election points otherwise. Aam Aadmi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Kumar Vishwas splurged more than Rs one crore between them during the polls.
While Kejriwal spent Rs 50.10 lakh in Varanasi Lok Sabha seat against BJP’s Narendra Modi’s Rs 37.62 lakh, Vishwas spent Rs 58.16 lakh in Amethi against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Rs 38.12 lakh.
Still, it was BJP’s Smriti Irani and not Vishwas who managed to give the Gandhi family some tense moments in Amethi. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi campaigned extensively in support of Rahul in Amethi. Also, to counter the Modi undercurrent, the Congress party doubled its financial support to Rahul from Rs 25 lakh in 2009 to Rs 50 lakh this year. However, the BJP succeeded in reducing Rahul’s winning margin from 3.7 lakh in 2009 to 1.07 lakh this year.
Out of Rs 50 lakh given by party, Rahul spent Rs 38.12 lakh during the polls. Interestingly, he didn’t spend a rupee out of his own pocket. Comparatively, BJP’s Smriti Irani was given Rs 46 lakh from party funds and spent a total of Rs 35.32 lakh.
She spent only Rs 1,000 from her pocket. Vishwas, on the other hand, received almost Rs 60 lakh from party and donations and spent Rs 58.16 lakh. He spent Rs 1,75,000 from his own pocket.
Despite campaigning for about four months, Vishawas could garner only 25,527 votes and was relegated to fourth position behind Rahul, Smriti Irani and BSP’s Dharmendra Pratap Singh. The BSP leader, who didn’t hold a single rally or road show, spent Rs 13.99 lakh and managed 57,716 votes.
Half of Rahul’s expenses went towards organising rallies and road shows while Smriti spent most on vehicles (Rs 14.60 lakh) and Vishaws on caps, posters and pamphlets (Rs 16 lakh, out of which Rs 5.36 lakh went just towards AAP’s trademark white caps).
Amethi chief treasury officer Bal Mukund informed that a notice to BJP has been served over their May 5 rally, which was addressed by Modi. “They have undervalued the expenses for the rally and didn’t include the expenses for a few other programmes,” Mukund said, adding that the final figure is unlikely to cross the Rs 70 lakh upper limit in any case.