Workers prepare election campaign vehicles, ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, in Patna (PTI)
NEW DELHI: Poll spending limit for candidates in Bihar assembly poll as well as impending bypolls to one Lok Sabha seat and 59 assembly seats stands enhanced by 10%, with the Central government notifying the higher expenditure ceiling recommended by the Election Commission for all polls to be held during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In line with the EC proposal sent to the law ministry last month, the limit for all states/UTs where the cap for Lok Sabha poll was Rs 70 lakh, has been raised to Rs 77 lakh; and for states/UTs with Rs 54 lakh as existing limit, to Rs 59.4 lakh. For assembly polls, candidates in states/UTs with Rs 28 lakh as the expenditure limit, can now spend up to Rs 30.8 lakh and those with Rs 20 lakh as existing limit, up to Rs 22 lakh.
As per the notification issued by the law ministry on Monday, the enhanced poll expenditure limits will remain in force till such date as may be notified by the Central government.
The raised limits are set to come as a relief for political parties and candidates as they deal with additional expenditure on public rallies and meetings in view of precautions that need to be taken in line with Covid-19 health protocols. This included additional expenditure on sanitisers, masks and regulation of crowds so as to adhere to social distancing norms.
EC had, while seeking a 10% hike in expenditure limit for all polls and bypolls to be held during the Covid-19 pandemic, justified it saying that the precautionary measures to be taken by candidates while interacting with the public would entail a cost additional to normal expenditure incurred during the campaign. Also, a larger number of smaller gatherings may need to be organised with large gatherings not feasible, it had added.
Meanwhile, EC is also contemplating a permanent revision in the ceiling on expenditure by a candidate in Lok Sabha/assembly poll. Sources said the EC will be setting up a committee to revisit the poll spending limit for all future polls in view of the country's total electorate having grown by 1.1 times from 834 million to 921 million and cost inflation index going up 1.37 times from 220 to 301 between 2014, when the poll spending limit was last raised, and 2020.