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10% hike in expenditure limits for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls

10% hike in expenditure limits for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls

New Delhi, Ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections and bypolls in other states amid coronavirus pandemic, the poll expenditure limit of candidates in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections has been increased by 10 per cent. The limit was upwardly revised by the Centre after consultations with the Election Commission of India.

The Ministry of Law and Justice issued a notification on Monday night to increase the maximum expenditure from Rs 70 lakh to Rs 77 lakh by a candidate while contesting Lok Sabha elections. In smaller states, the cap has been raised from Rs 54 lakh to Rs 59 lakh.

For Assembly polls, the amount has been hiked from Rs 28 lakh to Rs 30.8 lakh. The states with Rs 20 lakh expenditure limit will effect an upward revision to Rs 22 lakh.

In Bihar, the Assembly polls will be held on October 28, November 3, and November 7. Bypolls are also scheduled for one Lok Sabha seat and 59 Assembly seats in different states. Most Assembly bypolls are slated for November 3. In Bihar, the bypolls to Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat and three Assembly seats in Manipur are scheduled on November 7.

The notification, which amended the Conduct of Elections Rules, does not specifically mention the pandemic as a reason for the revised poll expenditure limits, or whether it is limited only to polls slated amid COVID-19 pandemic.

The amended rules, the notification said, "shall come into force on the date of their publication in the official Gazette and remain in force till such date as may be notified by the central government."

The Election Commission had recommended 10 per cent hike in expenditure limits for all elections scheduled amid the pandemic. This hike was recommended in the backdrop of curbs imposed to limit public gatherings, which directly affect campaigning strategies deployed by different candidates who would then have to look for alternatives to election rallies. The expenditure limit varies from state to state.

Around 20 states and two Union territories of Delhi and Jammy and Kashmir are in the Rs 30.8 lakh/Rs 77 lakh category, and eight states and UT of Puducherry in the Rs 22 lakh/Rs 59 lakh limit category.

The expenditure limit was earlier revised upwardly ahead of the 2014 general elections.

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