The Election Commission (EC) has given a clean chit to two BJP MLAs who were probed for exceeding the poll-expenditure limit during the Assembly elections held in Gujarat in December 2017. According to an analysis by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch, Rajendrasinh Chavda of Himmatnagar constituency in Sabarkantha district and Kubersinh Dindor from Santrampur constituency in Mahisagar district had exceeded the expense limit of Rs 28 lakh by Rs 5.78 lakh (21 per cent) and Rs 95,766 (3 per cent), respectively.
“A report submitted by the District Election Officers and certified by the Expenditure Observers states that the expenditures of both Chavda and Dindor had not exceeded the poll-expenditure limit,” stated a senior official from the Election Commission who did not wish to be named.
“We found that they had erred while submitting the details of poll expenditure. The report finds that the expenditure of both the winning candidates were within the permissible limit,” the official added.
It is mandatory for every contesting candidate to keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure incurred or authorised by him or by his election agent between the date on which he is nominated and the date of declaration of the result of election (both dates inclusive).
As per Section 78 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, every contesting winner has to lodge a true copy of his election expenses within 30 days from the declaration of election result with the District Election Officer.
According to the ADR analysis, Chavda had spent Rs 33.78 lakh which included Rs 22.38 lakh of personal expense, Rs 11.04 lakh by the political party and Rs 34,700 by other persons. Similarly, Dindor had spent Rs 28.95 lakh, which included Rs 23.76 lakh of personal expense and Rs 5.19 lakh by the political party.
“We had analysed the affidavits submitted by the winning candidates to the EC. So, we will not comment till the EC issues an official statement on this issue,” said Professor Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR.
Under Representation of People Act, if a candidate exceeds the maximum limit of election expenses it could result into disqualification for a period of three years.
Earlier, on January 30, while speaking to The Indian Express, Chavda had denied that he crossed the expense limit. “The expenditure is not what has been shown in the report. It is less than that. It is not Rs 33.78 lakh, but Rs 22.78 lakh. There might be some printing mistake in the report,” Chavda had said.
Dindor had also denied he had exceeded the limit. “The actual expenditure was Rs 23.74 lakh and not Rs 28.95 lakh as mentioned in the report.”