No cash. Following the Election Commissions directive to make poll expenditure more transparent,the central leadership of the Congress has for the first time been crediting funds directly into the bank accounts of candidates in the four states and Union Territory that are witnessing elections this season.
In the just concluded polls in Tamil Nadu,Kerala,Assam and Puducherry as well as ongoing elections in West Bengal,Congress candidates have recieved funds between Rs 5 and 10 lakh,but unlike earlier times when they had to make a trip to New Delhi to collect the money after submitting vouchers to the AICC treasurer,they have been saved the trouble with the party making fund transfers directly into their bank accounts.
The AICC has credited the money directly into their accounts. This is the first time we have done so, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora said. The Election Commissions directives make it mandatory for candidates to specifically open a bank account from which all expenses for the polls will have to be made.
Many,however,see the move as only a step in complying with the EC directive and note as one aimed at addressing the intent of curbing black money in elections. A Congress candidate in Tamil Nadu,for example,conceded that his election expenses were much more than the Rs 10 lakh he received from the central leadership.
The AICC has no option but to give under Rs 10 lakh through bank transfer as there is a Rs 16 lakh ceiling imposed by the Election Commission, the MLA said,adding that the buffer of Rs 6 lakh was required to cover any unforeseen expenses.
It is only the Congress that appears to have taken such a step. The BJP,for example,said it never funds candidates in any case; the candidates themselves are responsible for raising funds.
The central leadership never gives funds to candidates for an Assembly election. It is expected that they will raise resources on their own or at best,the state units may extend support them, BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal told The Indian Express.
Use of big money in elections has been a major concern for the Election Commission. Even as the poll process was on,Trinamool Congress MP K D Singh was intercepted at the Delhi airport with Rs 57 lakh cash as he was boarding a private jet to Assam. He was let off after he contended that the money was not meant for the polls but was part of funds of his company. In Tamil Nadu,which has seen rampant use of money power,the Election Commission had seized over Rs 50 crore in cash from various places.