Also under EC watch: Weddings, community feasts
The officials fear that those in poll fray may use the occasion to distribute freebies to woo voters, which is a violation of model code of conduct.Updated: May 04, 2019, 00:51 IST
With poll season coinciding with the wedding season, election officials have an extra task at hand — keeping a tab on marriage functions and receptions.
The officials fear that those in poll fray may use the occasion to distribute freebies to woo voters, which is a violation of model code of conduct.
Not just marriages, they are also keeping a watch on birthday parties and community meals, especially those being attended by politicians and their supporters. The steps are being taken in accordance with Election Commission of India’s instructions following past complaints of some politicians organising ‘fake’ wedding receptions and mass marriages for the poor.
“Hundreds of people flock such events to get free food, liquor and goodies given to guests,” said an official, not willing to be named.“We are keeping a close eye on such events as they present an opportunity to these candidates to indulge in canvassing. We are seeking details of all social events, including marriage functions and birthday parties, which politicians are likely to attend,” said Rakesh Singh, chief treasury officer and in-charge of monitoring election expenses of candidates in poll fray in Prayagraj.
“As per rule, if it is found that the event falls in the category of canvassing, then its entire cost would be added to the candidate’s expenses for the polls,” said Singh. This election, a candidate has a spending limit of Rs 70 lakh for the polls.
The election commission, ahead of Lok Sabha elections, had issued series of instructions on use of marriage hall, community hall, distribution of freebies and food packets to voters. The district electoral officers have been instructed to go through the bookings of community halls and marriage halls and verifying that they have been booked for marriage or other social functions or for other arrangements.
If a district electoral officer gets to find dubious booking of marriage halls then action is taken as per norms.
As per the ECI directive if any candidates, directly or indirectly, participates in any feast with an attempt to lure voters than the expenses incurred in hosting such feast will be counted in the poll expenses of the candidates.
He/she can attend such functions only as commoner.