The poll spending reports of 16% of Lok Sabha members for last year’s general election do not square with those of their parties, according to a report by an election reform advocacy group released on Wednesday.
An analysis of poll expenditure by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed 88 members of parliament, 70 of them from the BJP, claimed they received money from the party but there was no mention of it in the party accounts submitted to the Election Commission.
Candidates are required to submit poll spending reports, including the money received from their party, to their constituency returning officer and parties also have to submit similar expenditure details to the poll watchdog.
According to EC rules, the expenditure limit for a candidate is Rs 70 lakh, except in hilly region constituencies and Goa.
The discrepancy surfaced when the ADR analysed the expenditure reports of 539 of the 543 Lok Sabha members and compared them with spending reports submitted by the parties.
“A total of Rs 17.09 crore were declared as received by 88 MPs, 70 MPs from the BJP, 11 from the Congress, five from the CPI(M) and one each from the NCP and CPI, and their names were missing from the list of candidates to whom lumpsum amount was given by their parties,” the election reform advocacy group said.
The BJP members of parliament include junior finance minister Jayanth Sinha, who declared Rs 45 lakh; water resources minister Uma Bharti, who declared Rs 40 lakh; former HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi, who declared Rs 38.50 lakh; Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who declared Rs 11 lakh; textile minister Santosh Gangawar, who declared Rs 20 lakh; and MP from Bansgoan in Uttar Pradesh Kamlesh Paswan, who declared Rs 30 lakh.
“It will be difficult to comment as the issue is more than a year old. I have submitted all documents related to my election expenses,” Gangawar said. Sanjay Sharma, Bharti’s aide, said the money from the party was received by electronic transfer and proof was submitted to the election officer.
Kamlesh Paswan, BJP MP from Bansgaon in Uttar Pradesh, said he would l have to enquire from the party about the ADR claim. Pankaj V Krishisagar, Mahajan’s media advisor, said he could not comment until he had gone through the records. Sinha, Joshi and Gandhi were not available for comments.
But the ADR found that the BJP’s Tehri Garhwal MP, Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah, received Rs 15 lakh from the party but said she did not get anything.
She did not respond to a phone call and text message.
The 11 Congress MPs in the category included former UPA ministers KV Thomas (Rs 20 lakh), KC Venugopal (Rs 63,200) and Mullapally Ramachandran (Rs 31.50 lakh). “We have to look at how ADR arrived at these conclusions and what is their source of information. Only after assessing we will be able to comment on it,” said Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan.
The ADR report also found that of the 159 BJP MPs who declared receiving money from the party only 105 gave the correct amount while 35 declared an amount larger that what the party had reportedly given. The Congress, on the other hand, claimed it funded only seven MPs while 18 claimed to have received money from the party.
The findings will have no impact on the MPs as the Election Commission does not have powers to initiate action for discrepancy or wrong information in account statements.