Coming out as a whip to all candidates contesting the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, the state Election Commission (EC) has formed a special team to look into the expenditure documents submitted by candidates.
The special expenditure check team comprises of 15 tax officials. The panel is made to ensure that the candidates do not exceed the fixed limit of Rs 10 lakhs.
Keeping the upcoming polls in mind, the state EC S Saharia called a special meeting with Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and other divisional commissioners, collectors and police officials, income tax, customs departments to give directions on keeping the check on spendings.
While speaking to NewsX, Jageshwar Saharia (state EC) said, “We have appointed income tax officers in all 10 corporations including Mumbai where the general elections will be taking place on February 21. This is being done to keep track of expenditure incurred by candidates and expenditure declared by them.”
The State Election commissioner further added, “Our constitution expects a level playing field for all the candidates and all political parties in elections. However, I received many complaints over this move. Also, it was unofficially reported that most of the candidates exceed the expenditure limit which was fixed to Rs 10 lakh by BMC. In the order passed by the apex court the election commission has the full authority to check the correctness of the expenditure details submitted by the candidates going to polls.”
Stating the state laws, Saharia said, “Our state laws basically prescribe two things, one being that all the candidates have to submit the expenditure details daily and also within 30 days of the completion of elections, which means that under BMC, candidates have to submit daily expenditure details till 21 Feb”. Saharia also said, “We have instructed officials to increase patrolling in mangroves, forest areas, uncontrolled air strips and helipads for cash inflow and illicit liquor. We want strict adherence to the Model Code of Conduct and we will ensure that strict action is taken against violations.”
Being a pilot project, around 10 committees have been formed under the Municipal Commission which will be keeping check on the candidates going to polls in February. After BMC adopted this module, one can just wait and watch till the Election Commission adopts the module for all other states.