Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi did not spend a single penny from their pockets in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as the party took care of their entire expenditure.
That the Congress ‘s first family was a clear favourite of the party when it came to distribution of funds in the last general elections was revealed in the expenditure data submitted by its treasurer Motilal Vora recently to the Election Commission.
Both were given Rs 25 lakh each to contest from the Rae Bareli and Amethi seats,the maximum permissible for spending in Parliamentary elections at the time under election laws.
Pranab Mukherjee,who has now become the President,was the only other candidate favoured by the party in the last elections when it gave him the second-highest funding of Rs 15 lakh.
Expenditure data reveals that all Congress candidates in the last Lok Sabha polls on an average got Rs 10 lakh each as the party’s support to fight elections.
While Mukherjee,who successfully contested from the Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal,received Rs 15 lakh from the party kitty,all other Congress candidates in the state got Rs 10 lakh as party aid for contesting.
The maximum poll expenditure allowed in a Parliamentary constituency under the rules in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal was only Rs 25 lakh during the 2009 general elections. It was revised to Rs 40 lakh in 2011.
Other Congress candidates in the bigger states got Rs 10 lakh as party funding for their elections,while candidates in the Union Territories received Rs 5 lakh aid from the party.
Congress nominees in Andhra Pradesh,however,received only Rs 4.5 lakh as aid from the party for contesting the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress spent as much as Rs 36.91 crore as “aid to candidates” in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections,out of a total poll expense of Rs 380.04 crore.
The party received total donations of Rs 313.74 crore ahead of the 2009 general elections,with a majority of it,Rs 237.36 crore,in the form of cash from the date of announcement to the completion of the elections.
Incidentally,Union Minister Kapil Sibal did not take any financial help from the party for contesting the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat in 2009.
Another party leader,Sandeep Dikshit,the son of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit,too,did not take party funds while contesting from East Delhi.
While a majority of the funds,Rs 207.88 crore,was spent on publicity,a total of Rs 116.65 crore was spent on transport and travel,including air travel expenses of top party leaders for campaign
A total of Rs 116.60 crore was spent by the party on electronic media,including hiring time slots and spots on private channels. Another Rs 55.49 crore was spent on placing advertisements in newspapers,magazines and souvenirs.
Only Rs 21.33 crore was spent by the party on cut-outs,hoardings,banners,flags and gates put up as part of campaigning across the country.