Election Commission of India keeping close watch on expenditure in virtual rallies

New Delhi: Since the Election Commission has banned physical campaigning due to prevailing Covid-19 situation in the Country and the political parties are doing virtual rallies, the Commission is keeping a close tab on the money spent on these rallies.

The Commission has banned the physical rallies till January 31 this year and will review the situation after that.

According to the sources, the Commission’s Observers are keeping a tab on the campaign contents, which are being circulated during these virtual rallies.

The Commission on January 14, had conducted a detailed meeting with the government officials who have been designated as general, police and expenditure observers, who were asked to keep close watch on the expenditure during these virtual rallies too.

During the meeting with election observers the EC underlined the twin concerns on expenditure and content on virtual mode while the Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra reminded ‘expenditure observers’ to be innovative in countering ‘new and latest methods of inducement’ to the voters.

The poll panel has issued the guidelines to ensure that money spent on virtual campaign is fully accounted for in the expenditure statements filed by candidates and political parties.

The Commission has already amended the format of expenditure statement by adding column for virtual rallies.

The candidates are expected to file the details of rallies including the number of virtual rallies, amount spent and also the campaign contents shared during these rallies.

The ECI has also directed the social media platform companies to ensure compliance with the voluntary code of ethics amid heavy online campaigning due to ban of rallies.

The Commission has increased the expenditure limits for the forthcoming assembly elections and under the new order issued on January 6, 2022, the maximum limit for the expenditure by a candidate in Manipur and Goa is fixed at Rs 28 lakh while for the other three states — Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand is fixed at Rs 40 lakh.

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