Mumbai, June 29;Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Gopinath Munde, who publicly stated on Thursday that he had spent Rs.8 crore on his Lok Sabha election in 2009 from Beed constituency, has actually spent a much smaller amount, Rs.19,36,922, according to the affidavit he filed on his poll expenses.
In the abstract of his election expenses filed on June 8, 2009, Mr. Munde spent Rs. 4,15, 233 on public meetings, processions etc, Rs.1,40,843 on campaign materials such as handbills, posters, video and audio cassettes, loudspeakers, Rs. 5,49,679 on campaign through electronic/print media(including cable network), Rs 5,41,134 on vehicles, Rs. 1,01,670 on erection of gates, banners, arches, cut-outs, and Rs 1,88,363 on miscellaneous expenses.
His own expenses amount to Rs. 18,70,860 and Rs. 66,062 is a contribution from the political party, in this case the BJP, which seems to have chipped in for gates, arches and cut-outs, making it a total of Rs. 19,36,922.
No lump sum grant
Mr. Munde has not received any lump sum grant from a political party, any other association or body or individual. In his accompanying affidavit, Mr. Munde had said that these expenses were from March 31, 2009 to May 16, 2009 — that is from the date on which he was nominated and up to the date of the election results. He also stated that the account of his election expenditure as annexed included all the items of election expenditure incurred or authorised by him or his election agent, the political party which sponsored him and nothing has been concealed or withheld.
Speaking at a book release function presided over by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, Mr. Munde had remarked, “When I first contested the elections to the Maharashtra Assembly in 1980, my expenses were Rs. 9000, of which Rs. 7000 were borne by the party. But my expenditure in the last elections [2009 Lok Sabha polls] was Rs. 8 crore.” Mr. Munde hoped no election commission official was present in the audience. He further jested that even if there was any Election Commission authority, there were only six months remaining for the Lok Sabha Polls.
According to another affidavit, Mr. Munde’s assets add up to just a little over Rs. 2 crore.
Of the total amount of Rs. 2, 34, 35, 508 declared as assets, the BJP leader’s ‘moveable assets’ — which include cash deposits in banks, Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) policies, a motor car and jewellery — add up to just about Rs. 58 lakh.
Mr. Munde’s ‘immoveable assets’ reveal that he, along with his wife, purchased 11 plots of agricultural land (in Beed and Parbhani districts) and 5 plots of non-agricultural land (in Beed and Pune districts), besides owning a 5140-sq. ft. building (in his wife’s name) in Beed district and a 1250 sq. ft. apartment in the MLA Society in Mumbai’s Worli area, adding up to Rs. 176 lakh.
The BJP leader risks disqualification for a period of 3 years according to section 10 A of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which stipulates that the Election Commission can disqualify an elected representative if “he / she has failed to lodge an account of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by or under this Act.”
Prima facie evidence
Ajit Ranade, one of the founders of Association for Democratic Reforms, told The Hindu that there was prima facie enough reason for the Election Commission to issue a show cause notice to Mr. Munde under section 10 A over the discrepancy in his election expenses. Mr. Ranade, who was present at the book release function, said the BJP MP did not make these remarks in jest; he knew the potency of what he was saying, especially since he hoped that no Election Commission officials were around.