Tough to check over-spending in elections: poll panel chief

December 5th, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami Friday indicated that most candidates overspend during election campaigns and that it was difficult to check who was crossing the expenditure limit set by the poll panel. Gopalaswami said the Election Commission has its own limitations in controlling political parties from collecting money from illegitimate sources and curb the high budget campaigns.

Citing an experience in Tamil Nadu, he said there were instances when ambulances were used to carry money for voters.

“Ambulances were carrying cash, not the sick,” he said while participating in a seminar on financing of election campaigns here.

He noted that the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) were the only parties that stick to the spending limit during campaigning.

Jaya Jaitley, former president of the Samata Party, said the two communist parties could stick to the expenditure limit as they are cadre-based parties and mostly generate funds for the election campaign from their members.

She, however, said that most candidates saw elections as a money-making excercise.

“Nowadays the whole democratic festival is becoming an underground activity,” Jaitley said.

But she added that the expenditure limit was not sufficient and should be expanded.

“If I want to send one postcard worth Re.1 to 29 lakh (2.9 million) voters in a Lok Sabha constituency, I will have to spend Rs.29 lakhs,” she said.

MP Nikhil Kumar, who also took part in the seminar, was of the view that there should be no limit to the money being spent for election campaigns.

Instead, there should be an accountability of the money generated by a candidate from various sources to make the entire process transparent, he said.

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