The Election Commission (EC) has issued a notice against senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde after he stoked a controversy by his candid admission about spending Rs 8 crore on his 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign.
The EC has asked Munde to explain within 20 days why action should not be initiated against him under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and why he should not be disqualified under the Representation of People Act for allegedly suppressing and undervaluing his poll campaign expenditure, reported CNN-IBN.
The EC notice to Munde said, "ln 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 under section 10 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament or of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State or Union Territory for a period of three years from the date of order of the Commission declaring you to be so disqualified."
On Thursday, in his speech, talking about his long electioneering career and bemoaning the increasing cost of contesting elections, Munde said "I spent Rs 29,000 when I contested my first assembly poll in 1980. Rs 8 crore were spent for my last (2009 Lok Sabha) election."
And the BJP leader was pretty nonchalant about the Election Commission taking action against him, saying that parliamentary polls were close enough for him not to care.
"If the Election Commission comes to know, they will disqualify me. But I don't care about it since Parliament elections are happening just in a few months," he was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.
The Election Commission, incidentally, specifies that the maximum a candidate can spend on an election campaign is Rs 40 lakh.
Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari was quoted by NDTV as saying that if Munde has spent over the prescribed limit , he must explain to the Election Commision the reason for doing so. " It is in the nation's interest, and the responsibility of the commissionm" Tewari said.
Munde, an MP from Beed and BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, was speaking at a function to launch the book `Beyond a Billion Ballots' penned by Vinay Sahastrabuddhe.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari too were present.
While it has long been suspected that election candidates rely on undeclared sources of income to get elected, the action taken against candidates for failing to declare the campaign expenditure has also been criticised in the past.
With inputs from PTI