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EC notice to Munde over poll expenses claims

Mumbai Bureau & PTI
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His statutory declaration was Rs. 19.36 lakh, against the latest admission of Rs. 8 crore

With the Election Commission on Saturday night issuing notice to Gopinath Munde, who publicly stated that he had spent Rs. 8 crore on his election campaign in 2009 after having declared a much smaller sum in a statutory affidavit post-election, the Deputy Leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha was clearly headed for trouble. He had declared in the affidavit filed on his election expenses that he had spent Rs.19.37 lakh. The EC gave Mr. Munde 20 days to give an explanation.

In 2009, the expenditure limit for a candidate in a Lok Sabha election was Rs. 25 lakh. The former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra now risks disqualification for a period of three years, under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It stipulates that the Election Commission can disqualify an elected representative if “he/she has failed to lodge an account of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by or under this Act.”

Speaking at a book release function presided over by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday in Mumbai, Mr. Munde remarked: “When I first contested the elections to the Maharashtra Assembly in 1980, my expenses were Rs. 9,000, of which Rs. 7,000 was borne by the party. But my expenditure in the last elections [2009 Lok Sabha polls] was Rs. 8 crore.” He then expressed the hope that no Election Commission official was present in the audience, adding that even if there was an official present, only six months remained till the next Lok Sabha elections.

According to another affidavit he had filed as part of the statutory requirement, Mr. Munde’s assets added up to just a little over Rs. 2 crore. Mr. Munde was an MLA in Maharashtra for five terms, having been elected first in 1985. He was Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly from 1992 to 1995. He was elected to Parliament in 2009 from Maharashtra’s Beed constituency.

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