The expenditure incurred on buying laddoos used during SAD candidate Harsimrat Badal’s poll campaign meetings in this constituency has become a contentious issue between the Election Commission (EC) and the party.
The EC, in the notices served on Harsimrat for the discrepancies found in the expenditure register maintained by her and the assessment by the expenditure observers talks about the discrepancies on the spending on laddoos.
In Harsimrat’s expenditure register, the party has shown the expenditure on buying laddoos once a day. However, the shadow register maintained by the expenditure observers makes mention of the multiple expenditures under this head at the meetings held at different places on a particular day.
The first notice with regard to the variation in the total spending by her was served to the party on April 17 when a discrepancy amounting to Rs. 6,37,261 was found. The discrepancy in expenditure was on account of buying of laddoos and other things, including chairs, siropas, tea and other eatables served.
Sources said the SAD, in its reply to the first notice, said the party used to buy laddoos once in a day and carry them to other places.
In the next meeting held on April 20 for checking the expenditure registers, a discrepancy of Rs. 3.64 lakh was found in Harsimrat’s register for which the party has been served another notice.
In the second notice, an amount of Rs. 1 lakh has been shown for buying laddoos at as many as 17 places, which is not part of expenditure shown by the SAD candidate.
District election officer Kamal Kishore Yadav said there were some discrepancies in the expenditure register of Harsimrat and spending on laddoos was part of that. He said he did not remember the wording of the reply filed by the SAD.
“A meeting of the expenditure monitoring committee scheduled for April 23 will look into the matter,” he said.
Davinder Singh, assistant returning officer, Bathinda (rural) assembly segment, where these cases have appeared, said 50 to 70 kg laddoos, costing Rs. 80 per kg, were being used for weighing Harsimrat, depending up on the gathering.
Meanwhile, Harsimrat is leading the expenditure tally with the highest spending of Rs. 21.13 lakh, followed by Rs. 13.78 lakh by Congress candidate Manpreet Badal. AAP candidate Jassi Jasraj has spent Rs. 5.7 lakh while Bhagwant Singh Samaon of the CPI (ML) Liberation has spent Rs. 4.85 lakh.
Independent candidate Manpreet Badal has spent Rs. 79,000.