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ECI sets limit on star campaigners to carry only up to Rs 1 lakh in cash with them

LS candidates in small states can spend not more then Rs 75 lakh and in bigger states maximum of Rs 95 lakh

Screenshot 2024 03 31 105330NEW DELHI: The Election Commission India (ECI) has put the expenditure cap not only on candidates, but also upon star campaigners, who can carry with them not more than Rs 1 lakh with them during campaigns and candidates accompanying them should not have more than Rs 50,000 cash in their possession.

Officials said that in addition to candidate expenses, the ECI has closely been monitoring the expenditure of star campaigners. “Star campaigners are allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 1 lakh cash, while candidates themselves cannot hold more than Rs 50,000. Any excess amount found will be confiscated, and appropriate action will be taken against the individual,” said a senior official.

Meanwhile, the Commission has announced spending limits for candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections 2024, as those in the small states are permitted to spend a maximum of Rs 75 lakh, while in larger states this can go up to Rs 95 lakh, the officials said.

Similarly, the expenditure limit for candidates in assembly elections has been capped at Rs 40 lakh and all their expenses, with regard to meetings, rallies, advertisements and vehicle costs, should be within this limit.

The poll panel has also directed that candidates are required to maintain a detailed diary of their daily expenses, starting from the filing of nomination to the conclusion of the election. These records must be submitted to the Commission for scrutiny within 30 days of completion of an election.

The officials said that candidates are also instructed to maintain a separate register for daily expenses and provide detailed reports to the local election authority on a daily basis. This register should include expenses for rallies, meetings, and other campaign activities, along with video recordings as evidence.

More to these the poll panel has also fixed a rate in case a candidate hosts a celebrity for campaigning purposes, as they can pay only Rs 2 lakh to such invitees and any overpayment may result in penalties, the officials said, adding that rates for petty expenses like flower garlands, food, and transportation have also been predefined by the Commission.

Furthermore, expenses incurred during campaign events featuring star campaigners may be divided between the candidate and the campaigner. For example, if a candidate travels with a star campaigner or features their name and image in campaign materials, a portion of the expenses will be attributed to the candidate’s expenditure.

These regulations are based on the outlined provisions in the Representation of the People Act 1951, that aim to maintain transparency and accountability in election spending and ensure a level playing field for all candidates, the officials said.

Interesting here to note that in the first general election in 1951-52, Lok Sabha candidates were allowed to spend a maximum of Rs 25,000, and just Rs 10,000 in some Northeastern states. The limits weren’t changed until 1971, when the spending cap was raised to Rs 35,000 for most states. In 1980, the cap was again raised and this time by a considerable amount to Rs 1 lakh per candidate. In 1984, it was raised again to Rs 1.5 lakh in some states and Rs 1.3 lakh in some smaller states.

Voting for the 543 Lok Sabha seats will be held in seven phases across the country beginning April 19 and the results will be declared on June 4.

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