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No expenditure cap for Council polls, MLCs opt out

As there is no cap on expenditure, candidates with good financial backing are likely to break limits and upset the playing field.

Published: 23rd November 2021 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd November 2021 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

Cash; Capital; investment

(Representational Photo)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The Legislative Council election is not for the ordinary citizen. A number of incumbent MLCs are not ready to contest the December 10 elections to the Council again, wary of the huge expenditure involved, and rivals with deep pockets or those backed by bigwigs. At least ten MLCs have shown no interest to contesting the elections again.

As there is no cap on expenditure, candidates with good financial backing are likely to break limits and upset the playing field. The range of spend is between Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore. “The incumbent MLC from our party is afraid of getting sandwiched between the candidates of the two national parties, and is backing out of the contest, as money and muscle power are involved even in MLC polls,” said a senior JDS leader.

The Election Commission has placed a ceiling of Rs 77.8 lakh for Lok Sabha election spending, and Rs 30.8 lakh for assembly elections for each candidate, after the Law ministry approved the 10 per cent hike owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, in October 2020. Earlier, the amount was Rs 70 lakh for LS polls and Rs 28 lakh for assembly election.  

The limit for Taluk Panchayat polls is Rs 50,000 and for Zilla Panchayat polls, it is Rs 1 lakh. Interestingly, there is no cap on Gram Panchayat polls, which led to the circulation of a lot of cash and offers of inducements in the last polls in Karnataka. In fact, the EC had written to the law ministry in November 2018, seeking a cap on expenditure in Council polls in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Telangana, which have a bicameral legislature. Five of seven national parties and 51 state parties had backed the amendment to Section 77 and Section 79 of the RP Act, but it is yet to translate into law.

“Our teams are in place to check all kinds of inducements. Police, excise, commercial tax, income tax and banks have formed a team and are keeping vigil on the illegal transfer of money,” said Chief Electoral Officer for Karnataka Manoj Kumar Meena.



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