In Varanasi, a cash-strapped Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal ran a spirited campaign against Narendra Modi and went on to spend as much as half-a-crore rupees, but, as is now history, lost to him by a huge margin of 3.71 lakh votes.
With major parties having submitted their campaign expenditure in Varanasi, AAP and Congress surpassed Modi on this front. According to the details submitted to the district administration, Ajay Rai of the Congress splurged the most at Rs 54.45 lakh while AAP spent Rs 50.10 lakh and BJP Rs 37.62 lakh. Monday was the last day for the parties to submit election expenditure.
Varanasi chief treasury officer Ramamurthy Dwivedi said SP’s Kailash Chaurasiya spent Rs 24.54 lakh while Trinamool Congress’s Indira Tiwari spent Rs 14.58 lakh.
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“Of the 42 candidates, 31 have submitted election expenses while 11, including BSP, are yet to do so,” Dwivedi told The Indian Express. over the phone. While Modi polled 5.81 lakh votes, Kejriwal stood a distant second with 2.09 lakh votes, followed by Ajai Rai 75,614 votes, Vijay Prakash Jaiswal of BSP with 60,579 and Chaurasiya with 45,291 votes.
Varanasi officials said the BJP spent the most on publicity material such as handbills, pamphlets, posters, CDs and cassettes at Rs 9.41 lakh.
SP, too, splurged on publicity material, spending as much as Rs 13.20 lakh. The Congress, interestingly, spent the most on publicity through e-media, such as SMS, cable network, Internet and social media, spending Rs 24.92 lakh.
AAP, apparently, hoped to win support with a large cavalcade, spending as much as Rs 20.53 lakh on vehicles. AAP’s Purvanchal zone convenor Sanjeev Singh said the BJP’s actual expenditure was much higher. “They distributed lakhs of t-shirts and saffron gamchas (sweat towels) throughout Varanasi; there was unaccounted publicity material funded by corporates and then there was publicity material in disguise; best examples are perhaps the huge hoardings for Gujarat tourism in Varanasi,” Singh said.