In an effort to keep the expenses on the elections within the prescribed limit and avoid the ire of the Election Commission (EC), parliamentary poll contenders and their managers are coming up with innovative measures to reduce poll expenses such as using cots instead of chairs or ferrying supporters in tractor-trolleys for party rallies or canvassing, the exempted articles in the expenses list of the EC.
The SAD-BJP alliance had refielded its sitting MP Sher Singh Gubhaya and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had tasted victory twice (in 1992 and1996) from here, has imposed its faith in Raj Kumar Prajapati and avoided Rai Sikh leader and two-time MP Mohan Singh Phalianwala. Congress as well as AAP are yet to declare their nominees.
Gubhaya is taking a lead in the election campaign and even SAD(B) president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has already presided over a meeting of the party rank and file to mobilise their support in Gubhaya’s favour.
“Candidates are cautious to ensure that their poll managers arrange cots instead of chairs for the audience and avoid even tents or loudspeakers because expenses on chairs, tentage, tables and public announcement system are added to their poll expenditure,” said one of the senior politicians pleading anonymity.
“Candidates or their supporters are quite cautious on other unnecessary expenses too. Instead of the earlier practice of heavy refreshments, installing huge banners or flexes before the arrival of the nominees in the area, it’s now by and large a simple and low-profile affair,” Jaswant Singh, a resident of a village in Abohar, said after attending a poll meeting.
“In another measure to ensure cost- cutting, party leaders are being asked to ferry their supporters in tractor-trolleys to attend party rallies, that too without carrying any party flags as the money spent on the use of tractor-trolleys does not add to poll expenses,” revealed a political leader.
A tractor-trolley is not only a cheap mode of transport, rather it may ferry more people than any other mode of transport, added the leader. Manjit Singh Narang, district magistrate-cumdistrict electoral officer, acknowledged that no charges had been mentioned for use of cots during poll rallies, but if a tractor-trolley carries a party flag while ferrying people, it’s cost would be added to poll expenses.