BJP leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, who was served a show-cause notice by the Election Commission for allegedly claiming that he had spent Rs.8 crore in the 2009 Lok Sabha election (over and above the permissible limit of Rs.25 lakh), has sought four weeks’ time to respond.
He has sought some documents pertaining to that election from the Election Commission. In a letter sent through his counsel, he has asked for copies of the reports about his expenditure submitted by the election expenditure observer and the Returning Officer/District Election Officer of the Beed constituency, from where he was elected.
Sources told The Hindu that Mr. Munde did not make any comment about his speech (regarding Rs.8 crore expenditure) delivered in Mumbai on June 27 during a book release function, which created a lot of controversy.
Sources said that in the show-cause notice dated June 29, Mr. Munde was given 20 days’ time to reply. The Commission might consider giving him some more time to reply but not four weeks as sought by him. But the desired documents are likely to be given to him in a day or two “in the interest of natural justice”.
In its notice, the EC had wanted to know, why Mr. Munde “should not be disqualified under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for your failure to maintain a true and correct account of your election expenses as required by law, for not lodging the true account of your election expenditure by suppressing/undervaluing the said expenditure, and thus having failed to lodge your account of election expenses in the manner required by law”.
The EC warned: “In case, you fail to do so, within the time stipulated above, you will render yourself liable, without any further reference to you in the matter, for disqualification” for being an MP.”
While Mr. Munde, in his election expenditure account filed on June 8, 2009, had shown an expenditure of only Rs.19,36,922, it was evident “as per your own admission in public, you in fact spent Rs.8 crore as your election expenditure and thus you did not maintain a true account of your election expenses as required under Section 77 of the RP Act and therefore the account lodged by you under Section 78 of RP Act is not in the manner required by law”. A copy of the CD containing Mr. Munde’s controversial speech was also sent along with the EC’s notice to him.