Thursday 1 February 2018

Uttarakhand Civic elections expenditure limit for candidates DOUBLED

Written by Anil Singh

I found this news report particularly interesting. It makes us think from alternate perspectives. One of which can be an alarming bell for people.

The Uttarakhand election commission has doubled the expenditure limit for campaigning for candidates contesting the Civic polls in Uttarakhand. The new changes will apply to canidates who who wish to contest the upcoming civic polls in the State (in Hindi "Nikaya Chunav"). The most recent are down the corner and will take place in April, just a month from now.

Here are some quick details about Local Bodies in Uttarakhand and the revised civic election expenditure limit

Number of Urban local bodies in Uttarakhand: 92

The expenditure limit for mayoral candidates in municipal corporations:  increased from ₹8 lakh to ₹16 lakh

The expenditure limit for deputy mayor: increased from ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakh

The expenditure limit for corporators: increased from ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakh

The expenditure limit for municipal councils, the chairman candidates:  increased from ₹3 lakh to ₹6 lakh

The expenditure limit for ward members in municipal councils:  increased from ₹30,000 to ₹60,000

The expenditure limit for Chairman, nagar panchayat:  increased from ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakh

The expenditure limit for ward members: increased from ₹15,000 to ₹30,000.

What is interesting about the news is NOT that all parties had previously demanded the EC to increase the maximum expenditure limit for various candidates contesting Uttarakhand Civic elections. Whats is interesting is that various political parties have indeed accepted in public that the earlier limit was too low for contesting even a Civic Body election. This acceptance is essentially a good thing, as it removes some artificialness in our political discourses.

This brings us to the main point of the write-up, is a 100 percent or double increase in maximum expenditure limit that alarming for people?

It is not alarming when we see the increase from the expenditure perspective. The prices of every product or service has increased over the years (if I remember correctly, the last civic body elections took place in Uttarakhand in April 2013). If politicians cannot fight elections at previous expenditure limits then they must not be blamed. So double hike seems logical.

But the increase in the above expenditure limit becomes alarming, if we look at it from the growth in an average citizen's income. If that is considered, then about forget contesting elections, he/she cannot even live an average life. There's a visible double standard here. While a political party see a real steep price hike in contesting elections (100 percent increase), the  same party fails to see how a common man/woman can buy 15 kilograms of wheat, rice and sugar through PDS in Rs. 300 (just an example).


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