Skip to main content

Democratic reforms NGO relies on Gujarat MLAs' data to say: They used just 54% of electoral expenses allowed

Poll spending in 2012, as provided by MLAs
By Rajiv Shah
The Election Commission (EC) of India and the Narendra Modi government may be under scanner (click HERE) for "undermining" transparency by refusing to part with any information on the controversial Electoral Bonds scheme, allowing political parties fund their activities secretly.
Yet, surprisingly, in its new report, a top NGO, "working" on democratic reforms, has used official figures to analyze Gujarat MLAs' spending during the 2012 state polls, without once recalling the huge black money used during the elections.
Reasoning the use of the figures the MLAs have provided, and refusing to doubt them, the NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), has used a disclaimer: "Information about MLAs in this report has been taken from the election expenditure statements filed by them and submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat. ADR does not add or subtract any information, unless the EC changes the data."
Considering all information the EC provides “verified”, ADR says, "No unverified (sic!) information from any other source is used", adding, it uses only "copies of affidavits obtained from the CEO’s website".

It goes on, insisting the MLAs’ information should be treated as final: "In case of discrepancy between information in this report and that given in the election expenditure statements, the information reported in the election expenditure statements filed by MLAs should be treated as correct."
Ironically, the report comes close on the heels of the Union Finance Ministry, EC and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) replying to a Right to Information (RTI) plea that they don’t have any information about the Electoral Bonds schemes.
Announced in the Annual Budget in February 2017, the Modi government amended three laws relating to elections, income tax and RBI to create Electoral Bonds for monetary donations to political parties. Effective April 2018, snybody would be able to buy bonds in the form of bearer bonds from a designated commercial bank for any sum of money and donate it anonymously to a political party.
Interestingly, the Gujarat MLAs' report comes despite the fact that the ADR has filed a Public Interest Litigation along with another NGO, Common Cause, in the Supreme Court, challenging the Electoral Bonds on the ground that they have opened doors to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties.
The ADR report claims, out of 143 MLAs analyzed, 65 (45%) MLAs spent election expenses of less than 50% of the expense limit (Rs 16 lakh) during the 2012 polls, and the only MLA who exceeded the expense limit was Satishbhai Patel (BJP) from Karjan constituency, He spent Rs 36.76 lakh, or 230% of the expense limit.
According to ADR, "Based on the election expense declarations of 143 MLAs from Gujarat Assembly, the average amount of money spent by them in the elections is Rs 8.70 lakh, which is 54% of the expense limit", adding, "Out of the total funds received by MLAs, 92% funds were raised from political parties, 6% were raised by MLAs themselves and 2% funds were raised from other sources."
Even as refusing to define “other sources”, the report continues, “56 (39%) MLAs have declared that they have not received any funds from political parties. 137 (96%) MLAs have declared that they have not received any funds from any person/ company/ firm/ associations/ body of persons etc. as loan, gift or donation etc."
Refusing to even suggest that black money may have been used in the 2012 elections, the report says, "Out of the 143 MLAs analyzed, 4 (3%) MLAs have declared that they have not spent any amount on public meetings, processions etc.", and "the average amount spent by 143 MLAs from various parties on public meetings, processions etc. is Rs. 2.33 lakhs."
It adds, the "143 MLAs had spent Rs12.44 crore through their own funding, party and through other association or an individual. Political parties spent Rs 91.68 lakhs on 42 MLAs. There are 101 MLAs who have declared that their political parties have not spent any amount for their election campaign."

Comments

Hemantkumar Shah said…
Very good appreciable research and nicely written piece. Congratulations.
Uma said…
Good to know these things even though this refers to just one state. I wouldn't be surprised if other states have similar stories with slight variations in figures.

When will the electoral reforms actually take place? BJP claimed to be a corruption-free party but isn't this also an aspect of corruption?

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.