Gujarat polls: EC to strictly monitor candidates' expenditure

Ahmedabad: In order to curb the influence of 'money power' during the Gujarat assembly elections scheduled in December, the Election Commission will have its own monitoring mechanism, which will keep a strict watch on the candidates' expenditure.

"We don't have to worry about the muscle power, it has been controlled, but we still have to control the money power and that is our main concern in this assembly elections," District Collector and Chief District Electoral officer of Ahmedabad Vijay Nehra told reporters here today.

Nehra said this while giving details of the steps being taken for a stricter implementation of the Model Code of Conduct, which came into effect as soon as the poll dates were declared yesterday. He also said a zero-tolerance expenditure monitoring system will be put in place.

Reuters

The Election Commission announced yesterday that Assembly polls in Gujarat will be held in two phases-- on 13 and 17 December. The notification for the polls will be issued on 17 November and counting of votes will take place on 20 December.

This time, every candidate has a ceiling of Rs 16 lakh for election expenditure, Nehra said adding, "For the first time the EC would be having its own Expenditure Monitoring Mechanism and Gujarat is the first state, where this is being implemented."

"Until now, candidates had to furnish details of election-related expenditure, but now, we will set up one flying squad in every assembly constituency to keep a tab on the candidates' expenditure," he said.
These flying squads will also video-record the events. During the electioneering, if any person or a group of persons would be found carrying over Rs 2.50 lakh unaccounted cash, they will be detained, he added.

State election authorities have roped in various government departments like the Customs, Income Tax as well as officials of the local civic bodies, who will be working in tandem with EC-appointed expenditure observers and assistant observers.

According to sources, the Commission is engaged in identifying the number of "expenditure sensitive"
constituencies in Gujarat.

"Travelling cost of a star campaigner would not be included in the candidate's name unless the candidate had accompanied the star campaigner from the starting point. Then 50 percent of travel cost will be added," Nehra said.

Election authorities have also decided to hold training workshops for interested candidates' polling agents and they would be provided all the information related to Model Code of Conduct and Election Expenditure.

Ahmedabad District consists of 21 Assembly constituencies and part of Gandhinagar (South) Assembly
constituency. Out of it four constituencies like Dholka, Dhandhuka, Sanand and Viramgam will be going to the polls in the first phase of the election on 13 December.

For the strict implementation of the Code of Conduct in these areas, the authorities have formed 39 teams
from Ahmedabad city and 19 from Ahmedabad rural area, said Kirit Dudhat, Ahmedabad Additional District Magistrate and Deputy Collector.

"Each team will include one policeman, an election official and a videographer. Their training will commence tomorrow and they will be in the field till the day of voting," he said.

PTI