New Delhi, 12 May-2014(PTI/IANS/ANI): Narendra Modi’s rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi constituency on May 5 has come under scrutiny for possibly exceeding the expenditure limit for a candidate set by the Election Commission, a top official of the poll watchdog told ET on the condition of anonymity. While EC is yet to reach a final conclusion, an adverse finding could result in the disqualification of BJP Amethi candidate, Smriti Irani, leading to another flashpoint between the Commission and the party.
Possible Cancellation of Candidature of Smriti Irani in Amethi for Modi’s rally says EC Sources
Amethi, saw a bitter campaign between Congress and BJP’s Irani with the former accusing the latter of distributing “venomous” literature against Gandhis.
“The expenditure observer of the Commission has pointed out the lavish nature of the rally and a probe is on to determine whether the expenses exceeded Rs 70 lakh limit prescribed by EC. The purpose of the probe is to determine whether Irani has violated Section 77 and 78 of the representation of people act (RPA) ,” said a senior official of the Commission under the condition of anonymity.
Amethi, represented by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi witnessed a bitter campaign between the Congress and BJP’s Irani with the former accusing the latter of distributing “venomous” literature against the Gandhis in their bastion.
The Congress will also officially complain about the Modi rally and press for Irani’s disqualification this week. “The party is in no mood to forgive given the nature of campaign mounted by Irani and the BJP,” says a top Congress leader.
Irani could not be reached for comment but a BJP leader close to her told ET this was “vintage tit for tat politics by the EC. We haven’t received any complaint or notice,” said the leader.
Action against Irani could be taken irrespective of the outcome of the election and could mean being barred from contesting elections for a period of time.
Section 77 of the RPA talks of the requirement to maintain true and correct accounts of spending and section 78 requires that these accounts to the filed with the electoral authorities.
Candidates can be barred from contesting elections for a variety of offences including filing of improper accounts under Section 10(A) of the RPA. The maximum period of disqualification is six years.
An official in the Election Commission dismissed the allegation that the poll watchdog was being vindictive, stating that team Modi’s problems with the Commission have only started post April 30, after the Commission ordered an FIR be registered against the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate for flouting rules. The official also pointed out that in the case of Irani, since she had taken “advantage” of the rally —-as well as the fact she was mentioned by Modi in his speech and was present on the dais—- the Commission’s thinking is that expenditure on the rally would be clubbed with her candidature.
Explaining the process by which the Commission calculated election expenditure, the person cited earlier said the intention was to ensure a level playing field. “The Election Commission comes out with a price list of equipment, furniture and other election related expenses in every constituency to ensure level playing field. In these elections, the Commission is also carrying out extensive video surveillance of every rally to capture details like evidence of vehicles, furniture, rostrum, chairs, type of vehicles used etc,” he said.
“There are also expenditure observers appointed in each constituency and the lavishness of the Modi rally was brought up by the local observers. We have asked them to conduct a detailed probe and they would be getting in touch with the candidate also,” said the official.[Input source: ET]