Government cleared a proposal of the Election Commission to raise expenditure limits for Lok Sabha elections to a maximum of Rs 70 lakh and a minimum of Rs 54 lakh, allowing candidates to spend more on their poll campaigns.
The Commission has proposed to raise expenditure limits for assembly elections, with a maximum of Rs 28 lakh and a minimum of Rs 20 lakh in North Eastern and hill states.
According to sources, the Union Cabinet which met here considered the Commission's proposal in this regard sent on February 17 and cleared the same.
The EC had written to the Law Ministry proposing a raise 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 poll expenditure rates will go up from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh for each Lok Sabha constituency in bigger states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka, while it will go up from the present Rs 22 lakh in smaller states like Goa to Rs 54 lakh on par with other hilly and north eastern states.
It will also go up to Rs 54 lakh in north eastern states where the limits were varying between Rs 35 lakh to Rs 27 lakh for parliamentary seats earlier.
Among the union territories, the limit will go up from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh in Delhi while it will be uniform at Rs 54 lakh for all other UTs.
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 rise for Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies was done 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 that 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.
The EC had argued that enhanced limits of poll expenditure were required to be done in view of rising inflation that needed to be factored in.
Officials also hope the move will encourage candidates to declare their poll expenses truthfully in the interest of greater transparency.