Babus told to limit poll bills

While the EC has called for a hearing on Friday on the CAG?s strictures on misuse of poll funds during the 2001 Assembly elections, chief secretary Asok Gupta has warned all district officials against splurging during the polls.
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Updated on May 06, 2004 06:20 PM IST
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PTI | ByTapan Das, Kolkata

While the Election Commission has called for a hearing on Friday on the CAG’s strictures on misuse of poll funds by district magistrates and SPs during the 2001 Assembly elections, Chief Secretary Asok Gupta has warned all district officials of that rank against splurging during the polls.

Gupta’s directive has much to do with the EC’s demand for a full report from him on the conduct of the errant DMs and SPs.

The EC’s decision to call a hearing of a group of petitioners was prompted by a PIL filed in the Calcutta High Court against one IAS and seven IPS officers for using election funds for other purposes.

The CAG, in its 2001 and 2002 reports, had taken strong exception to additional expenditures incurred by several DMs and SPs. While 7 SPs had spent Rs 1.2 crore on various purposes out of the 1999 Lok Sabha funds, as many as 17 DMs had spent Rs 8.7 crore over the sanctioned limits in the previous Assembly elections. All 19 central observers for South 24-Parganas during the 1999 elections were put up at Tolly Club instead of state government guesthouses and “lavishly fed and cared for”, toting up an entertainment bill of Rs 4.77 lakh.

The CAG was also constrained to note that a number of SPs took the liberty of using the allocated funds for furnishing their official bungalows, purchasing ACs, video-cameras, music systems and even for paying residential phone bills.

The CAG’s strictures notwithstanding, none of the DMs barring South Dinajpur cared to limit election expenditures within the allocated funds of Rs. 38.96 crore during the 2001 Assembly elections. The total spending stood at a whopping Rs 47.63 crore. While the CEO and the state had fixed a limit of Rs 13.25 lakh for each constituency, the Darjeeling DM set a record by overspending to the tune of Rs 30 lakh per Assembly segment. He outdid all others by spending about Rs 4.14 lakh on entertainment alone, the CAG noted.

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Friday, January 28, 2022