Money spent on social media campaigns by the candidates will now be added to the poll expenditure, the election commission said.
The Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi, had undertook a similar action in the 2013 Assembly polls. However, it is for the first time that it will be carried out in a parliamentary election.
Political parties and candidates spend huge sums of money to maintain their presence on the social media -- a platform that parties exploit to reach out millions of voters, especially the youth.
“Social media is an important segment and in case candidates want to post their advertisement on websites they need to take approval for the content from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). Once approval is given the committee sends it to the expenditure monitoring cell which will include it in the candidate’s total expenditure,” said Ankur Garg, chief nodal officer.
While the parties need to approach the additional CEO office for permission, the candidates have to approach the returning officer seeking permission from the MCMC for the content.
The Election Commission of India has recently revised the expenditure allowance for Lok Sabha candidates from `40 lakh to `70 lakh per candidate.
“We are also planning to seek information from the candidates as to how much they spent on getting the content created. A number of companies are hired for this purpose and lakhs of rupees are spent on creating the advertisement itself. Once that is done, candidates then spend money on paying the websites where they place the advertisements. Usually payment is made depending on the hits the website gets,” said a senior official.
Just like the last assembly elections, candidates for the Lok Sabha elections also need to declare their social media accounts in their affidavits.
“It was a difficult task to keep a tab on all the candidates as there were 70 Assembly seats and more than 900 candidates. But as there are only seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi we are hoping to keep watch on them more carefully,’ added the official.
Apart from this, election officials have also got in touch with telecom service providers regarding bulk requests placed by candidate for the elections and this too would be included in the total expenditure.