Govt. hikes poll expenditure ceiling by 10%

The hike in expenditure limit will help candidates contesting Bihar assembly poll as well as bypolls to one Lok Sabha and 59 assembly seats.

October 20, 2020 10:51 am | Updated 10:28 pm IST - New Delhi

A crowd gathers near an election campaign vehicle outside the BJP office in Patna on September 2, 2020.

A crowd gathers near an election campaign vehicle outside the BJP office in Patna on September 2, 2020.

The Law Ministry has increased the ceiling on poll expenditure for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections by 10%. The move follows a recommendation by the Election Commission in view of curbs imposed during the coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic .

The notification, issued late on Monday evening, will help candidates contesting the Bihar Assembly polls as well as those fighting bypolls to 59 Assembly seats across 11 States and one Lok Sabha seat.

The ceiling on poll expenditure varies across States, with candidates in Assembly elections in bigger States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu now allowed to spend up to ₹30.8 lakhs as against ₹28 lakhs earlier.

For a candidate contesting a Lok Sabha poll in these States, the revised ceiling on poll expenditure is now ₹77 lakhs instead of the earlier amount of ₹70 lakhs.

Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and a few Union Territories, based on the size of their constituencies and population, have a lower ceiling on poll expenditure. Here while the enhanced ceiling for a Lok Sabha candidate is now ₹59.4 lakhs those contesting an Assembly can spend up to ₹22 lakhs.

The last time the expenditure ceiling was enhanced was in 2014 just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Over a month ago, the EC had recommended a 10% increase in expenditure for all elections to be held during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping in mind the problems that candidates may face while campaigning under the various COVID protocol laid down by the poll panel.

The notification that amended the Conduct of Elections Rules , however, does not mention that the limit has been increased in the wake of the pandemic or if it is only for the COVID-19 period.

“The amended rules shall come into force on the date of their publication in the official Gazette and shall remain in force till such date as may be notified by the Central Government,” read the Gazette notification.

While the three-phase Assembly polls in Bihar will be held on October 28, November 3 and November 7 , bypolls to Assembly seats in most other States will be held on November 3. Byelection to the lone Lok Sabha seat, Valmiki Nagar seat in Bihar, and three Assembly seats in Manipur will take place on November 7.

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