The candidates in the upcoming assembly election will be free to treat voters with ‘paneer pakodas’, ‘jalebis’ or ‘laddoos’, but only on the rates fixed by the Election Commission.
Well aware of the fact that many candidates report low spending for even lavish events, the EC has fixed rates for 142 items that could be used for campaigning by candidates.
Candidates and political parties will have to ensure that expenditure on treats, facilities, amenities and modes of transportation are strictly adhered to and fall within their overall ceiling of ₹28 lakh.
This includes prices of snacks and meals, furniture, vehicles and even stationery items.
Being vital for candidates who have to submit their poll campaign expenses, they will have the cost of all such items served during their poll-related events which will be added to their poll expenditure.
The move will also allow the voters to get information about the money spent by any candidate on ‘wooing’ them even to the extent as to what the ‘samosa’ served to him with ‘chana’ or sauce cost the candidate.
The commission has also fixed rates of sound system, printing material and paid advertisements among other paraphernalia used during campaigning.
While seeking permission for public gatherings and rallies, all political parties and their candidates will have to submit expenditure details in an annexure.
“Details of items used along with their cost will have to be mentioned in the annexure. A copy of this document will be available with a videography team appointed by the EC which will crosscheck every detail at the venue of the meetings and will record the event,” said district election officer, Allahabad, Sanjay Kumar.
As per the rates fixed by the EC, a plate of ‘chhole bhature’ will cost ₹30, simple ‘roti thali’ ₹70, ‘kachori’ ₹11 while ‘paneer pakoda’ ₹12 per piece to the political party or the candidate. Each cup of tea and coffee will cost ₹5 and ₹10 to the candidate.
The EC has also fixed rates for the sound system as well. The amount paid for power generators, fans, water-coolers, television sets, projectors, floodlights and even wires and banners used for poll-related events will need to be provided for scrutiny of poll officials.
According to a senior ECI official, these regulations have been finalised by the EC after due consultation with recognised political parties and the quotations have been spelt out in accordance with the prevailing market rates.