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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Bhagwant Mann: Smallest expenditure, biggest victory

Neeraj Mohan, Hindustan Times  Sangrur, July 22, 2014
First Published: 23:29 IST(22/7/2014) | Last Updated: 14:43 IST(23/7/2014)

Money matters in polls, but not always. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann, who won the Sangrur seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections, is an example.

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His poll spending was the lowest among the 13 winners in Punjab, but he had won the seat by the biggest margin of 2.11 lakh votes in the state. To top it all, he spent only `1,000 from his pocket, with bulk of his money coming from the party and donors.

As per the final expenditure details submitted by the candidates to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Mann, who spent `17.43 lakh on his election, got `11.74 lakh from the party fund and another `8.30 lakh from donors. He was left with unspent balance of `2.60 lakh in his election account.
In contrast, actor-turned-politician and BJP leader Vinod Khanna spent a whopping `63.95 lakh on his election from Gurdaspur.

Khanna, who defeated Punjab Congress president Partap Bajwa, had to spend `35.16 lakh from his pocket as he got only `4.63 lakh from his party and another `24 lakh through donations during the elections, according to expenditure details submitted by the candidates last month.

Congress candidate from Anandpur Sahib Ambika Soni spent `54.80 lakh on her election campaign, for which she got `50 lakh from the party fund.

Besides spending `11.93 lakh on public rallies, `11.75 lakh on campaign vehicles and `7.24 lakh on advertisements, the former union minister incurred an expenditure of `2.34 lakh on beverages. The poll expenditure limit per candidate was `70 lakh.

Her party colleague Preneet Kaur was the next among big spenders, incurring an expenditure of `52.45 lakh on her election campaign in Patiala constituency.

Like Ambika Soni, she did not get much financial support from the Congress party, but she got `40 lakh as "gift" during the election campaign. While no star campaigner visited her constituency, she spent `30.76 lakh on public rallies. Badal bahu Harsimrat Kaur Badal, SAD MP from Bathinda, spent `52.28 lakh on her poll campaign. She received `32.70 lakh from a long list of donors and `5 lakh from the party. Her father-in-law, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and husband, deputy CM Sukhbir Badal, were the two star campaigners who frequented her constituency. She spent `6.98 lakh to organise 13 rallies of the two Badals in Bathinda.

Congress candidates Ravneet Bittu, Partap Bajwa and former finance minister Manpreet Badal also spent  roughly `50 lakh each on their election campaigns.  While Manpreet made no mention of any financial support from the Congress in his affidavit, Rahul Gandhi's rally in Bathinda alone cost `14.43 lakh.

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