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 Sheth 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

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.