In Varanasi, 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 have outdone 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 during the Lok Sabha polls for Varanasi seat.
Monday was the last day of submitting election expenditure by the parties; the last day for submission is counted a month after the elections draw to a close.
Varanasi chief treasury officer Ramamurthy Dwivedi said Samajwadi Party’s Kailash Chaurasiya spent Rs 24.54 lakh while Indira Tiwari of Trinamool Congress incurred Rs 14.58 lakh as poll expenditure.
“Of the 42 candidates, 31 have submitted election expenses while 11, including BSP, are yet to do so,” Dwivedi told The Indian Express over phone.
While Modi polled 5.81 lakh votes, Kejriwal stood a distant second with 2.09 lakh votes, followed by Ajay Rai at 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, cassettes, etc at Rs 9.41 lakh.
The Samajwadi Party, 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, meanwhile, claimed that 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.
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.