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Can you fight an election with just Rs 24,344?

How much money should a political leader spend for contesting an assembly election? Pose this question to Samajwadi Party legislator Narad Rai and he would say just Rs 24,344.

This is exactly the amount that this ruling party legislator from the Ballia Nagar assembly constituency spent in his 2012 election. Rai is not the only legislator with such meagre poll expenses. Bahujan Samaj Party's Surajpal Singh, who successfully contested the election from Fatehpur Sikri constituency in Agra, has claimed his poll expenditure to be only Rs 36,470.

These are some of the poll expenses declared by the winning candidates to the Election Commission. The negligible amount shown by some candidates as their poll expenses have baffled even the senior officials of the Election Commission. 'These figures are unbelievable. Have they not spent any money on transportation, posters and other paraphernalia? These figures are just too low...
vishwas nahi hota
,' Chief Election Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh Umesh Sinha said.

The successful candidates have to submit the details of their poll expenses to the Election Commission within one month of declaration of the results. Till Friday last, 199 of the 403 candidates had filed their poll expenses declaration. 'Our teams of experts have gone to every constituency. They will verify the claims of the candidates. And if any discrepancy is found, action will be taken against them,' the official said.

Narad Rai says the poll expenses, from his standard, are a bit on the higher side. 'I am a popular leader. I do not need money for
gaadi-ghoda
[vehicles]. When people of Ballia are with me, where is the need to spend money on campaigning?' he said.

Incidentally, Basic Education Minister Ram Govind Chaudhary won the Assembly poll from the neighbouring Bansdih constituency in Ballia district. He spent Rs 14.63 lakh on his election.

'Ask Ram Govind why he had spent Rs 14 lakh plus. I do not have that much money,' Rai, a three-time MLA, said. His poll expenditure of Rs 24,344 was on campaign material, including erection of gates, cut-outs, posters, etc.

There are others like Shri Bhagwan Sharma, SP MLA from Debai in Bulandshahr, and Maikal Chandra, the SP legislator from Dhanaura, who have spent nothing on campaign material though both spent over Rs seven lakh on their elections.

There are at least four legislators who have shown 'zero' expenses on vehicles used while 65 others have said that they did not pay a penny to workers who campaigned for them. The expense limit for candidates in Assembly polls is Rs 16 lakh.
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