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EC not in favour of raising poll expense limit


Bangalore: The Election Commission Saturday said it did not favour raising the expenditure incurred by a candidate in the legislative assembly elections.

“We are not inclined to review the maximum poll expenditure limit for assembly constituencies, which was raised to Rs.16 lakh only two years ago (February 2011) after a gap of six years from Rs.10 lakh in 2005,” Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters here.

Responding to such a demand by political parties in the run-up to the ensuing assembly election in Karnataka, due by May, Sampath said even after the expense limit for individual candidate was raised in 2011, returns filed by contestants after assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal showed the maximum limit (Rs. 16 lakh) was adequate, as the average expenditure incurred by them was around Rs.8-10 lakh.

“Basically, it is the central government that decides the maximum poll expenditure for parliamentary and assembly elections in consultation with political parties and authorities concerned. We try to ensure the limit is not crossed by enforcing the rule,” Sampath said.

The three-member poll panel, including Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and Nasim Zaidi has been in the city since Friday to assess the preparation for the assembly election and ascertain views of the political parties and top officials concerned.

The union law ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules in Feb 2011 through a notification raising the upper spending limit in a parliamentary constituency to Rs.40 lakh and to Rs.16 lakh for assembly constituency in big states, including Karnataka from the previous limit of Rs.25 lakh and Rs.10 lakh, ostensibly to deal with the use of black money in electioneering.