Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Kirit Somaiya and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Sanjay Dina Patil have given false information to the Election Commission (EC) regarding election expenditure, a Returning Officer in Mumbai has concluded.
Mr. Somaiya and Mr. Patil are contesting the Lok Sabha elections against renowned social activist and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Medha Patkar.
The two candidates have been ordered by the Returning Officer of 28 Mumbai North East Parliamentary Constituency to add Rs. 20 Lakh and Rs. 8 Lakh respectively to their expenditure accounts. The order comes days after the AAP complained to the Returning Officer about the unauthorised issuance of voter slips by the BJP and NCP candidates.
Anil Hebbar, Election Agent of Medha Patkar, had filed a complaint with the Retuning Officer in the first week of April. “The Model Code of Conduct clearly states that the candidates are not permitted to handover voter slips containing the name or symbol or party,” the complaint stated. According to the rules, the voter slips have to be printed on plain white paper only, it added.
The complainant attached copies of laminated and plastic voter slips issued by Mr. Somaiya and Mr. Patil with their names and party symbols on it.
The slips distributed by BJP had Mr. Somaiya and Narendra Modi’s photographs on them. A slogan on the backside read, “Ab ki baar Modi sarkaar, Kirit Somaiya apla khaasdar” (Modi government will come in power this time, and Kirit Somaiya will be your MP).
The slips distributed by NCP had the party symbol and photographs of Mr. Patil, Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Prithviraj Chavan and Ajit Pawar.
After the Returning Officer issued a show cause notice to both the candidates, Mr. Somaiya claimed that the slips were printed and distributed by the party and he had nothing to do with him. “The said voter cards are propaganda material of Bharatiya Janata Party and not an election campaign material of the candidate,” he further claimed.
The Returning Officer, in his order issued over a fortnight ago, disagreed with the logic. “The symbol of Bharatiya Janata Party, photograph of Party leader Mr. Narendra Modi and candidate Mr. Kirit Somaiya on the voter cards signify that the said voter cards were printed and distributed in the interest and furtherance of election prospectus of candidate Mr. Kirit Somaiya in Loksabha election 2014. This clearly establishes that these plastic cards are election campaign material of candidate contesting election,” the order stated.
The officer also observed that the material was distributed when the Model Code of Conduct had already come into force. He found the figures quoted as spent by the candidates on the cards, were “undervalued and less.”
The Returning Officer thus revaluated the costs and ordered the two candidates to add around Rs. 20 Lakh and Rs. 8 Lakh each to their expenditure accounts. “We feel extremely anguished that the Election Commission of India is taken for a ride by the mainstream parties who take pride in falsely claiming themselves to be capable of good governance. Can the violators of law ever provide good governance? Can the election and the results based on such campaigns of falsehood be considered as free and fair?” a statement issued by AAP on Wednesday said.