Apart from hitting the common man hard, inflation has caused election budgets to soar as well. Taking the inflation index into account, the State Election Commission (SEC) has effected a big hike in the amount candidates can spend on campaigning for the upcoming municipal elections.
Inflation index is a tool used to measure the rate of inflation in an economy.
In the last municipal elections, the upper expenditure limit fixed for candidates was Rs 1.5 lakh which has now been increased to R4 lakh — a near three-fold rise.
“Rising prices have to be taken into account, which is why we decided to increase the expenditure amount. This will help keep a check on black money being used in elections too,” said Rakesh Mehta, State Election Commissioner.
Political parties have welcomed the commission’s decision but have said that the amount needs to be hiked further.
“Rising prices means that a candidate has to spend more on campaigning and organising meetings. We feel the amount should be revised again. Contesting an election is an expensive affair,” said Jai Kishan Sharma, leader of opposition in MCD and a four-time Congress councillor.
With the election scheduled to be held on April 15, a number of candidates who are certain of getting a ticket have already started campaigning. But the commission will start keeping track of their expenses only after they fill up nomination papers.
Sources said that the SEC will ask candidates to maintain a separate election account and submit their expenditure to it as the commission will be maintaining an account of expenditure incurred by each of them.
Holi celebrations not violation of code of conduct
The State Election Commission has made it clear that councillors can celebrate Holi without the fear of violating the code of conduct. The commission also said that councillors or their children can organise weddings and birthdays too since they are considered ‘social’ and ‘personal’ functions.
Before the clarification, many councillors were apprehensive about hosting Holi celebrations as it would incur expenditure and involve meeting people and even gifting them. Many were worried the expenditure would be added to their poll budgets and may also be considered a violation of the code of conduct. htc