Cruel Joke of Election Expenditure Limit and Distortion of Poll Symbol by EC

This post was written by admin on May 16, 2008
Posted Under: Uncategorized

[The letter that was sent to CEC of India and CEO of Karnataka]

Date: May 15, 2008

Chief Electoral Officer
(Karnataka State)
DPAR (Elections), Old KGID Building Annexe
Dr. B R Ambedkar Veedhi
Bangalore – 560 001.

Subject: Cruel Joke of Election Expenditure Limit and Distortion of Poll Symbol by Election Commission

Dear Sir,

I, Ravi Krishna Reddy, have contested from Jayanagar Constituency as an Independent Candidate to protest against the immoral, unethical political practices and money power in Karnataka’s democracy. This contest was meant to showcase an Alternative Politics, which is legal, ethical and value based. When there are innumerable examples of MLA candidates spending crores of Rupees for just an assembly election, I was convinced that the only way to fight these illegal and unethical practices was by public participation and fighting the election with public funding. I have raised Rs. 4,22,000 (approx) from the public, starting from Rs. 10 donated by a 70 year old, poor elderly woman of Ragigudda Jopadi, to 105 other Indian donors from all across the world. To this I have added my own money of Rs. 23000 and we have spent Rs. 4,45,291 for the election. Hope you too have noticed this as this information was made public as soon as the election was over.

My above preamble is relevant because I am told by the Jayanagar constituency’s Returning Office officials that I am the only candidate who has spent more than 4 lakh rupees in this constituency! According to them, all the other candidates have “shown” their expenses to be less than 4 lakhs! I ask in wonder: how is this possible? Because, I have seen rallies taken out by political parties in this constituency, with hundreds of workers, on multiple occasions. On two occasions, I myself witnessed rallies at Jayanagar Shopping Complex in which the current MP waving at the public from the rooftop of a van. Hundreds of daily-wage workers, many 4 wheelers, and innumerable motor bikes were all part of this procession. I was also present in the same premises when a candidate was having his lunch with hundreds of poor, daily-wage workers inside a big
Marriage Hall. Special, colorful, expensive handbills and booklets were distributed by the candidates all across the constituency.

Isn’t it a cruel joke to say that even after all these expenses they have spent less than 4 lakhs?

Hasn’t the EC officials taken videos of these processions and noticed the publicity materials of the candidates and its worth?

After noticing all this, I strongly believe that the Election Commission has not fulfilled its duty responsibly and legally. Without keeping a tab on candidate’s expenses, I believe EC has sent an open message to all the candidates across the country and that message is: “Spend as much as you want, but let your expense returns be within 10 lakhs. We do not verify any details. The ceiling of 10 lakhs is just on paper and is of no significance whatsoever.”

I am concerned that the EC is not taking any measures to enforce the expenditure limits and this legal limit is a farce. I have to say with deep regrets that EC is not doing any justice to law abiding citizens of India, who want to contest the elections, rightfully and legally. At this moment, at least for the third phase of elections, I strongly urge you to deploy observers behind candidates and their workers to make sure that they won’t cross the expenditure ceiling, and thereby provide justice to the candidates who respect and abide by the law.

Along with this, I also would like to draw your attention towards the complaint that I have lodged with the RO of Jayanagar constituency. The EC allotted “Nagara” as my poll symbol. But, the symbol that was printed on the ballot box of EVM was something else. We spent almost Rs. 30000 for street plays and the display of actual Nagaras. We organized these street plays in the constituency primarily where low-income, uneducated voters are in large numbers. (As a matter of fact, some of the Tamil speaking voters were constantly reminding us that ‘Nagara’ is the symbol of one of the Tamilnadu’s Political Party.) But, on the day of the election, the symbol that was on the ballot box was something other than the official ‘Nagara’ symbol. Some news reports reported that the RO says, “it is not a major blunder.” I strongly protest against this kind of statements and believe this is a not a responsible statement. This was an error and the RO should have considered what does law says for such a situation, instead of opining whether it is a major or minor blunder. So, hereby I request you to kindly let me know what measures you have taken. Otherwise, I may have to consider exploring my legal options. Before I take that extreme measure, I believe getting these details and being educated by you regarding my choices are within my rights.

The fact that I was the candidate who has spent the maximum amount of money in this constituency and this campaign was run by the hard earned money of ordinary people compels me morally to demand answers and seek justice.

Ravi Krishna Reddy
Independent Candidate,
Jayanagar Assembly Constituency

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