Headquarters of the Election Commission in New Delhi | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Headquarters of the Election Commission in New Delhi | Representational image | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) is all set to increase the expenditure limit of candidates contesting elections during the Covid-19 pandemic by 10 to 15 per cent, ThePrint has learnt. 

According to sources in the poll watchdog, the enhanced expense limit will apply to all elections, including the Bihar assembly polls and the bypolls due for 64 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency later this year. 

The idea is to help candidates keep up with the increased expense warranted by safety measures announced for election campaigns in light of the Covid pandemic.

“Certain parties were of the view that due to Covid, they will have to have more rallies to ensure social-distancing norms are followed, they will have to increase the number of volunteers since door-to-door campaigning has been limited to just five people, and also buy masks, sanitisers and other Covid equipment to be able to campaign properly,” an EC official said. “So, the EC is planning to increase the limit by 10-15 per cent.” 

While Indian law stipulates no limit on election expenditure by political parties, there is a threshold for how much a candidate can spend on an election campaign. 

As of now, the expenditure limit for each candidate is Rs 50 lakh-70 lakh for Lok Sabha elections and Rs 20 lakh-28 lakh for assembly polls. A 10-15 per cent increase in the budget will take it to between Rs 55 lakh and Rs 80.5 lakh for Lok Sabha election candidates, and Rs 22 lakh and Rs 32.2 lakh for assembly polls.

Also Read: ‘It’s a joke, discourages voting’ — Bihar MLAs upset by EC’s poll guidelines amid Covid

Not known if move permanent

Asked whether the increase is being planned only as Covid relief, or would be applicable to all elections henceforth, the official said a decision is yet to be taken. 

Last month, the BJP had requested the ECI to increase the limit on campaign expenditure for the Bihar assembly elections as there would be added expenses. 

In an interview to ThePrint Tuesday, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had said the ECI is actively considering increasing the expenditure limit, even as he refused to comment on the limit exact quantum of the proposed increase.

Also Read: EC to allow physical campaigning for Bihar elections, plans more halls to count votes


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