If the election expenses declared so far by candidates of different parties in the district is any indication,the campaigning was quite frugal in the wake of tough guidelines issued by the Election Commission. Against the approved expense limit of Rs 16 lakh per candidate,most of those contesting the elections across parties seemed to have managed well within the half-way mark.
Cutting down on public meetings,saving on getting banners and hoardings printed,holding joint meeting of candidates during the visit of an important leader and taking the services of the accountant and the chartered accountants were some of the ways through which the candidates seem to have checked their campaign expenses. But party workers also said the trick could have been spending in such a way that it did not come under the head of any election expense.
In the election expenses declared by five of the 12 candidates of the Samajwadi Party so far,for instance,the maximum Rs 6.61 lakh was spent by Dr Ajay Bharti,who is contesting from Bara (reserved) constituency. The lowest expenditure so far is by Girish Chandra alias Gama Pandey of SP from Meja at Rs 4.95 lakh.
At least five BSP candidates have declared their expenses,which range between Rs 5.27 lakh (by Guru Prasad Maurya from Phaphamau) and Rs 7 lakh (by Harsh Vardhan Bajpayee from City-North). The Congress and BJP candidates from the same constituencies Anugraha Nayaran Singh and Uday Bhan Karwaria,respectively have declared their expenses at Rs 8 lakh lakh.
A few other candidates from different parties have also managed to keep their expenditure around the half-way mark,with only a slight deviation. Mafia don Atique Ahmed,contesting on Apna Dal ticket from City (West),had declared his expenses at over Rs 11 lakh.
Talking to this newspaper,MLA Anugraha Nayaran Singh said his election expenses rose because of visit of three VIPs. Rahul Gandhi,Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee – they all held meetings in my area. It takes quite a bit to hold their meetings because everything has to be in place. All of it is added to the candidates expenditure. Therefore,my expenses seem to be on a higher side, said Singh. He said he cut down on his own public meetings to keep the expenditure down. I relied largely on door-to-door contact for campaigning, he said,adding the ban on posters,hoardings and banners also helped them in keeping the expenditure down.
Across parties,the visit of an important leader had several candidates coming together so that the expenses were divided among them.
The accountants and the chartered accountants were in demand. In the election office of every candidate,there was at least one person dealing with accounts and a chartered accountant to oversee proper book-keeping, said Abhay Awasthi,the election coordinator for Congress in the district.
An SP office-bearer said the candidates were virtually like income tax payees,who approached the CA to ensure that they did not miss out on tax savings. There were some other ways also that was employed by the Candidates also spent in way that could not be slotted as election expenses. For instance,a candidate of the ruling party had blue decorative items installed in the houses of his supporters. When the opposition parties protested,the Election Commission officials said such expenses did not fall within the definition of election expenses.
Meanwhile,an Election Commission official said it could take action if there were serious discrepancies in the election expense statements furnished by the candidates.