With the Election Commission of India (EC) closely monitoring poll expenses, campaigning by Shiromani Akali Dal's top leaders in the Dasuya assembly segment might prove counter-productive for BJP candidate Sukhjit Kaur.
With the SAD failing to submit a separate list of star campaigners, the EC is listing all expenditure incurred on travel, board and lodging etc. during canvassing by party leaders such as chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Bikram Singh Majithia and Balwant Singh Ramoowalia in Sukhjit's account.
The Dasuya byelection is scheduled to be held on July 11. The poll expense limit per candidate during the assembly election/byelection is Rs 16 lakh. The EC can disqualify a candidate for crossing the expenditure limit.
District election officer (DEO) Deepinder Singh said the expenses incurred by the SAD's campaigners were being calculated and recorded in the poll expenditure account of the BJP nominee. "We have already notified the rates for every item being used for electioneering, including eatables, besides accommodation charges," he added.
"Though the BJP forwarded a joint list of SAD-BJP star campaigners to the EC, the latter approved the names of only BJP leaders, as per provisions of the law. The SAD, however, didn't submit a separate list of its star campaigners within seven days of the date of notification (June 16) of the byelection," he said, adding that the poll panel had also not received any such list from the People's Party of Punjab (PPP).
Badal has already announced his plans to camp in Dasuya for four days, July 6 onwards. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal is also likely to hit the campaign trail soon on his return from a foreign trip. Several Akali ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries have already been deployed in the area.
Manpreet Badal, PPP president, and several Left leaders have been campaigning for PPP candidate Bhupinder Singh Ghumman ever since the poll bugle was sounded.
"After examining reports of video surveillance teams, we have started registering expenses incurred on visits of SAD and PPP leaders in the 'shadow registers' of the candidate concerned soon after they submitted their nomination papers. Subsequently, such expenses will be recorded in Sukhjit and Ghumman's poll expense accounts," said Rahul Chaba, returning officer.