Lok Sabha poll candidates can spend more for their campaign following the Union Cabinet's nod to a proposal of the Election Commission to raise the expenditure limits for parliamentary elections to a maximum of Rs 70 lakh for bigger states and Rs 54 lakh for smaller states.
The Union Cabinet today approved amendment of the Conduct of the Election Rules, 1961 and revised the limit of election expenditure incurred by a candidate for parliamentary constituencies to Rs 70 lakh in all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshdweep and Puducherry where it will be Rs 54 lakh.
In case of assembly constituencies, the maximum limit has been increased to Rs 28 lakh in all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Puducherry where it has been fixed at Rs 20 lakh.
"This is due to the increase in the number of electors, polling stations as well as the increase in the cost inflation index," the government said in a release.
The EC had written to the Law on February 17 proposing a hike in expenditure limits for Lok Sabha elections to a maximum of Rs 70 lakh and bring the North-Eastern and hill states on par with those in the plains and proposed the limit of Rs 54 lakh for them.
The limit for Delhi assembly elections is proposed to be raised to Rs 28 lakh from Rs 14 lakh at present and Rs 20 lakh for Puducherry from Rs 8 lakh now.
Sources said the EC had worked out a formula based on Cost Inflation Index by virtue of which it proposed a hike in the expenditure limit for candidates contesting parliamentary and assembly constituencies.
As per the formula worked out by the Commission, the raise in expenditure limits for parliamentary and assembly constituencies was effected on a multiple of 1.75 times the previous figures, sources said.
The enhanced expenses limits come in the wake of political parties making a strong pitch in this regard at a recent meeting with top officials of the Election Commission.
Parties had argued the current limits were too meagre compared to the rise in prices on account of inflation.
The expenditure limit for each parliamentary constituency in the 2009 Lok Sabha election was Rs 25 lakh for bigger states and was revised in 2011 to Rs 40 lakh.
Sources say candidates in their expenses returns filed with the poll body have been under-reporting.
At present, a majority of the candidates have declared barely half the expenditure they are allowed to incur by the EC, the sources said.
Officials hope the move will encourage candidates to declare their poll expenses truthfully in the interest of greater transparency.