Sunday, February 25, 2007

Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council polls too expensive!

Finance Minister K Rosaiah has been saying that the restoration of Legislative Council and the recurring expenditure on running the Upper House will not cause much burden on the exchequer: it would not be more than Rs 7 crore to Rs 8 crore per annum, which he says is a peanut compared to the Rs 50,000 crore annual budget. However, if one looks at the way the money being spent by the candidates fighting to get into the Legislative Council, one is sure to get a rude shock. The overall expenditure being incurred by the candidates on the campaigning will be not less than Rs 100 crore. According to sources, the Congress candidates had to shell down lakhs of rupees to please their bosses and get the tickets, leave alone the campaign expenditure. And the Telugu Desam candidates, too, are not lagging behind. Most of these candidates hail from affluent sections and hence, are not hesitating to spend money like water.

A number of candidates fighting for the graduates' constituency represent Corporate Colleges, which had made crores of rupees in the last five or six years. And they donated lakhs of rupees to Telugu Desam as well as the Congress. What is more surprising is that even candidates fighting from teachers' constituencies are spending huge amounts. The teachers' union leaders are collecting donations from the teachers towards electioneering. And the style of electioneering is no less than that of an MLA election. Unlike in the past, when the Council candidates used to campaign through personal canvassing or by word of mouth, this time, the candidates are putting up banners, posters and huge cut-outs and even hiring vehicles in large numbers.

Since there is no restriction by the Election Commission of India on the expenditure on MLC elections (unlike in the case of Assembly elections), the candidates are going overboard to spend money. It remains to be seen how these candidates recover their expenditure after getting elected!!


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