The Election Commission (EC) has issued a new guideline to be followed for including the expenditure on the use of hired aircraft/helicopter by “star” campaigners of different political parties in the coming Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Besides Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, BJP senior leader L.K. Advani who frequently use special aircraft/helicopters for their whirlwind poll campaign, AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa is known for using them during polls for quick mobility.
The EC, in a letter to the Chief Electoral Officers, made it clear that if the list of “star” campaigners had been given to the Commission/Chief Electoral Officer by the respective political party within seven days of notification of election, then the travel expense of the “star” campaigner would not be added to the candidate's expenditure.
If the candidate, any of his representative, a family member or any other leader of the political party were sharing such transport facility with the “star” campaigner, then 50 per cent of the expenditure for hiring such facility, would be included in the respective candidate's election account. If more than one candidate shared the facilities then 50 per cent of the travel expenditure would be apportioned among such candidates.
The Commission also clarified that if a “star” campaigner of another political party or a party in alliance with the party of the candidate, attended the rally and sought votes for that particular candidate or shared the dais with the candidate, then the travel expense of that campaigner of allied party up to the constituency would not be exempted and added to the expenditure accounts of such candidates.
However, these guidelines would not apply if an attendant, security guard or medical attendant travels with the “star” campaigner and expenditure incurred on them should not be included in the candidate's expenditure, provided such personal staff do not play any role in the campaign. But the expenses made for the representative of the electronic/print media accompanying the “star” campaigner for election reporting would not be exempted from election expenditure accounts.