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MPs' Lok Sabha poll expenses in 2009 below permitted limit
Tuesday March 4, 2014 8:08 PM, IANS

A report from Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) Tuesday said MPs on an average spent less than 60 percent of the allowed expenditure in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

A proposal of the Election Commission, cleared by the government, has recently raised the expenditure limit for Lok Sabha elections from Rs.40 lakh to Rs.70 lakh for each Lok Sabha constituency in big states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka, etc, and from Rs.22 lakh in smaller states like Goa to Rs.54 lakh, at par with other hilly and northeastern states.

The government also cleared a proposal to raise expenditure limits for assembly elections, with a maximum of Rs.28 lakh and a minimum of Rs.20 lakh in northeastern and hill states.

However, the ADR report shows that, on an average, MPs declared an election expenditure of Rs.14.62 lakh, 59 percent of the average expense limit in 2009.

An ADR statement said even in the 2013 assembly elections held in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, statements show on an average, MLAs declared expenditure that is 50 percent of the expense limit.

In Delhi, MLAs declared an average expenditure of 51 percent of the expense limit, in Chhattisgarh (53 percent), in Madhya Pradesh (48 percent), in Rajasthan (46 percent) and in Mizoram (55 percent).

"Raising the ceiling does not address the real issues. First, we need a level-playing ground so a citizen with a desire for public service should be able to contest elections and not be at a disadvantage. Raising the ceiling has no impact on that," said Trilochan Sastry, founder member of ADR.

He added that more transparency in the funding and source of funding was needed, along with penalties for not being transparent.

He also sought penalties for crossing the new limit of Rs.70 lakh.

"Everyone knows about the huge amount of black money in elections. (BJP senior leader) Gopinath Munde said he spent more than Rs.8 crore. We need to curb this blatant misuse of black money in elections. In summary, none of the major concerns are addressed by the Cabinet decision to raise the ceiling," Sastry added.

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