The Election Commission’s move to put a cap on the expenditure limit per candidate for campaigning in the Punjab assembly polls at Rs 28 lakh has turned the lavish lunch and dinner parties into humble chai-pakora meetings in SAS Nagar.
But there is more to it than meets the eye. While some area councillors or party supporters are voluntarily hosting such meetings in their houses so that their candidate could interact with area voters, many a times these get-togethers are thrust upon them to circumvent the spending limit. This is done so that expenditure is not added to the candidate’s account.
- The Congress had initially hired 19 three-wheelers but it now has nine moving in different localities. The songs highlight a party candidate Balbir Singh Sidhu’s message and agenda to appease voters.
- The SAD-BJP alliance has 12 auto-rickshaws plying in the SAS Nagar segment. These play songs in praise of the alliance candidate TPS Sidhu highlighting his “education and clean image”.
- The AAP is using 10 three-wheelers playing party songs in praise of Arvind Kejriwal and seeking votes for candidate Narinder Shergill.
With the election commission keeping a close watch on such gatherings and even seeking records of booking of banquet halls and marriage palaces, the political parties and their candidates are asking their supporters to play host and create an impression that the candidate is invited to seek votes.
“Since a councillor is the party’s face at the local level, they are supposed to arrange for get-togethers to introduce the candidate to local residents. These initiatives are mostly voluntary and tea, snacks or pakoras are served as courtesy demands it,” said Sahibee Anand, BJP councillor from ward 20. “With election commission taking a note of poll expenditure it has provided a level-playing field to all candidates,” said Manpreet Kaur Dolly, daughter of AAP candidate from the Dera Bassi segment