With the Election Commission keeping a strict vigil on expenditure in the Assembly polls, many candidates have roped in tax experts like Chartered Accountants to ensure that their spending remains within the maximum limit.
The CAs are not only helping election candidates in avoiding the “nitty-gritty” of maintaining books of accounts, but also providing them ample time to concentrate on their poll campaigning.
“I am maintaining and keeping the entire record of our candidate so that the election expenditure should not go beyond the ceiling of Rs 16 lakh fixed by the Election Commission,” said Chartered Accountant Anup Jain, who is handling the expenditure of Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Sahnewal constituency, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.
“Candidates need the assistance of experts like us who can guide them how to spend their money in poll campaigning so that their total expenditure remains under the maximum limit,” Jain told media.
The Election Commission has fixed Rs 16 lakh per candidate as ceiling for poll expenditure for the upcoming Assembly elections and exceeding this limit may cause disqualification of a candidate.
Moreover, under section 10 A of Representation of the People Act, an elected MLA or MP can be disqualified for hiding true electoral expenses.
“Whatever poll expenses we book in our Summary of Expenses is matched by the Election Observer every third or fourth day with the Shadow Observation Register maintained by him to find out whether actual expenditure has been accounted for or not,” said CA Dinesh Sharma, who is taking care of expenses of Congress candidate from Ludhiana-North Rakesh Pandey.
With the Commission tightening its noose to prevent misuse of money power in elections by allowing videographing of poll campaigning, tax experts are of the view that it was almost impossible for candidates to suppress their expenditure during these elections.
Notably, during 2007 assembly elections in Punjab, the average expenditure incurred by 232 winning contestants and first runner-ups stood at Rs 5.11 lakh, way below the ceiling of Rs 10 lakh fixed by the Election Commission.