The Delhi State Election Commission (SEC) is likely to increase the campaign expenditure limit for candidates during the upcoming municipal elections.
The election commission had increased the expenditure ceiling to Rs 4 lakh during the last civic polls in 2012, up from the earlier cap of Rs 1.5 lakh for each candidate.
An election commission official said that after considering all factors—cost inflation index and revised upper limit for MP and MLA elections — an appropriate formula will be worked out to determine an upper spending cap for candidates contesting the municipal elections. The municipal polls are likely to be held in April third week.
“The revised poll expenses limit may be reviewed according to the inflation index. The commission will work out a mechanism on which calculation would be made for the same. It will also depend on the maximum value fixed for MP and MLA election, which has been amended since the last municipal elections,” he said.
As per rules, a candidate contesting for a minister of Parliament’s post in bigger states and Delhi can spend up to Rs 70 lakh at present for campaigning. Earlier, this limit was Rs 40 lakh. Likewise, a candidate contesting for the post of an MLA is allowed to spend Rs 28 lakh in the national capital. In smaller states, this restriction is Rs 20 lakh.
“The Rs 4 lakh campaign expenditure limit was fixed for the municipal elections in 2012 when the MP and MLA elections’ campaigning expenses used to be R 40 lakh and R 14 lakh respectively. We will keep all these factors in mind while deciding on the hike to be allowed,” the official said.
Councillors in the city’s three civic bodies had differing views on the move.
Abhishek Dutt, Congress councillor from Andrews Ganj ward of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), said he supported the proposed enhancement of expenditure ceiling.
“After delimitation, the composition of wards has changed. It will require extensive campaigning. So, a revision of the expenditure limit will help us,” he said.
BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councilors, on the other hand, opposed the idea saying it would lead to corruption.
“A councillor always shows comparatively less expenditure than the cap before the poll commission. So, the present limit does not matter,” said Yogender Chandolia, a BJP councillor from Dev Nagar in North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Ashok Kumar, AAP councillor from Vikaspuri ward said: “My opinion is that the expenditure limit should be decreased.”