The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday disqualified Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra for submitting incorrect account of expenses and alleged corrupt practice like “paid news’’ during the 2008 assembly elections. The ruling bars Mishra, a trusted aide to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, from being an assembly member or contesting elections for three years.
“The Commission finds that irrespective of whether the alleged expenditure when added to the respondent’s (Mishra’s) reported account, breaches the permissible (expenditure) limit or not, the fact remains that the respondent has not only knowingly submitted a false account of expenses, but also attempted to circumvent the legally prescribed limit on expenditure,” the EC said.
“Such attempts need to be curbed with strong measures and visited with exemplary sanctions and restore the balance in the electoral playing field. Therefore, the Commission is of the considered view and holds that the respondent, Dr Narottam Mishra, should be disqualified…’’
Mishra, 57, said that that he will move the high court. He claimed that the complainant had not provided any evidence. Mishra said that he respects constitutional bodies but added that he got a fresh mandate in 2013. He suggested that his resignation would amount to an insult to democracy. Mishra insisted that he had not paid money to newspapers.
The ruling BJP backed Mishra as opposition Congress demanded his resignation. Mishra is the BJP’s public face, who briefs journalists after cabinet meeting and defends the government whenever it is in trouble.
The complaint had said that his actual expense of Rs 13.50 lakh exceeded the maximum Rs 10 lakh limit. Bharati had submitted 42 clippings of alleged “paid news’’ carried in Hindi newspapers during campaigning under “misleading” titles.