Bills of Rs. 1.08 cr. submitted, 3 times more than last time

The high-intensity election this time saw candidate more than triple in the Lok Sabha election for Dakshina Kannada constituency in 2009. Strangely, the highest spender barely crossed the halfway of Rs. 70 lakh prescribed by the Election Commission.

The 14 candidates have submitted receipts that total to Rs. 1.08 crore, which is a drastic increase from the Rs. 36.53 lakh declared to have been spent by 11 candidates during the 2009 Lok Sabha election in the corresponding period. This is based on the accounts submitted by candidates till April 15, when public campaigning ended.

Contesting for the ninth time — after facing four consecutive losses — Congress candidate B. Janardhana Poojary has upped the expenditure to Rs. 36.59 lakh. This is nearly more than three times the amount he spent in 2009 (Rs. 10.50 lakh).

Similarly, BJP candidate Nalin Kumar Kateel’s expenditure has nearly doubled to Rs. 28.27 lakh from Rs. 17.05 lakh he spent in the last election.

Contrary to the trends seen, the CPI(M) has reduced its expenditure by nearly half. In the 2009 election, B. Madhava, its candidate, had shown around Rs. 12 lakh as expenditure after voting day. However, this time round, its candidate, K. Yadava Shetty, has shown Rs. 6.97 lakh which puts him in sixth position in terms of spending by candidates.

The district administration has to add the cost of the rally of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate M. Narendra Modi in Kasaragod to the account of Mr. Nalin, who was sharing the stage with the “star campaigner”.

When the final figures for the expenditure are made available, the difference between the amount spent in the two elections could go up further. District officials said the receipts submitted by the candidate were “assumed” to be right.

“The expenditure committee looks at the items they have spent on, and verifies accounts as per the EC’s shadow registry. But, they do not investigate into whether the cost of the particular item as listed by the candidate is correct,” said an official.

Former Congress MLA and now Independent candidate K. Kushala Bellare sounded sceptical of the amounts declared, saying even if “Rs. 7 crore is spent, they will show it as Rs. 70 lakh”.

He said the accounts and submission of receipts were handled by block workers. “There is no accountability in what they do, and the candidates prefer not to break their heads about it. Just like the affidavits submitted to the EC, the expenditure can be disguised and manipulated, especially if black money is involved,” said Mr. Bellare.

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