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Tea with two biscuits for Rs. 9: Election Commission sets the bill for poll expenses

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 21, 2013
First Published: 20:52 IST(21/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:12 IST(23/10/2013)
Tea with two biscuits for Rs. 9, a garland for Rs. 90, a covered chair for Rs. 36 and a loudspeaker with a vehicle for Rs. 1,725.

Every time candidates treat their campaign teams or guests with tea, coffee or soft drinks, or when they are greeted at a corner meeting by party workers and supporters with bouquets and garlands, or if they organise a corner meeting or a public rally, the amount spent will be added to their election expenses.

The candidates will have to ensure that the expenditure does not go beyond the ceiling of Rs. 14 lakh as fixed by the Election Commission of India.

District election officers have come up with an exhaustive list of items candidates use in election campaigns and their rates.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/10/22_10_pg4c.jpg

But most political parties are not happy with the rates of several items on the list. They argue that some items are available at much lower rates in the market.

"Rates of some of the items are exorbitant. Since we will hire or buy these items in large quantities, we will obviously get it at a lesser price," said a Congress leader, wishing to remain anonumous.

The chief electoral officer has now asked the representatives of all political parties and district election officers to sit together and finalise the rate list.

Candidates have to maintain accounts of their poll-related expenditure, which will be submitted to the commission after the elections.

Officials said earlier there was no way to find and establish that the poll expenditure as shown by the candidates was correct.

"We have now started a new concept of maintaining a shadow register for each candidate. Every single penny spent on poll campaign will be registered in the candidate's own expenditure register as well as the shadow register maintained by the district election office," a senior election department official said.

The 91-item list includes hiring charges of microphones, loudspeakers, amplifiers, podium, banners, cut-outs, vehicles, chairs, sofa sets, lights, fans, carpet, flower pots, garlands, tents, coffee machines, water, generator sets among others. There is a separate list of vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, breakfast and snacks.

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