The Election Commission on Friday said it was verifying facts on the remarks allegedly made by senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde that he had spent over Rs. 8 crore during the 2009 Lok Sabha election (the maximum expenditure allowed is Rs.25 lakh only during that poll).
“The issue is related to the matter that is over four years old and we have to see in what context he [Mr. Munde] had made the statement in Marathi, if at all the press reports are true. The Commission will try to get conclusive evidence on the claim allegedly made by him and thoroughly verify facts and match them with the election expenditure return filed by him and based on that appropriate action will be taken,” said a senior EC official.
He told The Hindu that the Commission had not received any complaint so far. During non-election time also the EC had powers to cross-check facts mentioned in the election expenditure return.
Informed sources said action under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Indian Penal Code could be taken for filing a false affidavit or not mentioning the real expenditure incurred in the election by a candidate. A candidate, if elected, could even be disqualified for three years if it was proved that he/she indeed filed a false affidavit.
Mr. Munde was elected from the Beed Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra and he was participating in a book release function in Mumbai on Thursday when he had reportedly made the statement about his poll expenditure.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has sought action by the EC on Mr. Munde’s statement, saying the Commission should take cognisance of it.
“If Mr. Munde has said he has spent Rs. 7 crore to 8 crore, it would be proper the EC asks him. It is in the nation’s interest, and the responsibility of the EC,” Mr. Tewari said.