As candidates are resorting to social media campaigns to influence voters, the Election Commission has instructed officials to keep a strict watch on such expenses and include it under election expenditure.
“The commission has issued detailed guidelines on social media, which mentions about furnishing details of social media accounts by the candidates in the affidavit that is to be filed for the nomination process,” Nijlingappa, treasury officer and expenditure committee head, said.
“The commission has brought the political advertisements to be issued on social media sites under the purview of pre-certification. The commission has further instructed that candidates and political parties shall include all expenditure on campaigning, including expenditure on advertisements on social media, both for maintaining a correct account of the expenditure and for submitting the statement of expenditure. Candidates will have to seek prior permission from the media certification and monitoring committee,” he said.
“I have briefed the committee members about the EC guidelines on expenditure and maintenance of records by candidates and also the verification process,” he said.
In the 2014 Noida assembly by-elections, BJP candidate Vimla Batham had spent ₹5.21 lakh on a publicity campaign, including ₹85,393 on bulk SMS and social media campaign.
Samajwadi Party candidate Kajal Sharma had spent ₹50,000 on bulk SMS, ₹15,000 on social media campaigns, besides ₹1.49 lakh on other advertisements.
Congress candidate Rajindra Awana had stated an expenditure of ₹12,550 on bulk SMS and social media.
In 2014 Parliamentary elections, Dr Mahesh Sharma, BJP candidate, had shown an expenditure of ₹1,93,529 on bulk SMS and social media campaigns.
Satish Kumar, the BSP candidate, had spent ₹15,050 and Congress candidate Ramesh Chand Tomar, ₹6,002.
Samajwadi Party candidate Narinder Singh Bhati had spent ₹33,854 and Nav Bharat Democratic Party candidate SP Singh had spent ₹10,167 on bulk SMS and social media campaign.
Aam Aadmi Party candidate Kishan Pal Singh had stated nil expenditure towards bulk SMS and social media campaigns.