Indian Express
Aditi Raja

As many as 97 MLAs have declared that they spent funds on campaigning through electronic or print media while 85 did not spend any funds on campaigning through electronic or print media.

An analysis of the election expenditure statements of MLAs by the Delhi-based Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has highlighted that 156 BJP candidates spent an average of Rs 69.9% of the expense limit, while 136 of 182 MLAs spent over half of Rs 40 lakh assigned to them by the Election Commission during the campaign of the Gujarat Assembly polls held last December.

Congress candidates on an average spent was 62.3% of the fund, while AAP candidates spent an average of 39.1% of the expense limit. Lone SP MLA, Kandhal Jadeja of Kutiyana constituency in Porbandar, spent under Rs 7 lakh, becoming the lowest spending legislator.

Ninety percent of the MLAs claimed to have spent funds on public meetings, processions and so on with star campaigners, other than those for general party propaganda.

Only 18 MLAs said they did not spend any funds on ” public meetings, processions… with star campaigners other than those for general party propaganda”. Interestingly, only 20 of the 182 MLAs have spent funds on virtual campaigns.

The top 10 spenders among the MLAs are from the BJP, with Jayram Chema Gamit from the tribal reserved seat of Nizar (ST), spending the highest at Rs 38,65,298 – 97% of the allocation. Kalol-Gandhinagar BJP MLA Laxman Punjaji Thakor came a close second spending Rs 37,78,689, and the richest MLA in Gujarat, Ramesh Tilala from Rajkot South seat, spent Rs 35,29,267. Tilala had declared assets worth over Rs 175 crore.

SP’s Jadeja spent the lowest at Rs 6,87,565 – 17% of the expense limit. The only Congress leader to feature on the list of lowest expenditures is Congress Legislature Party leader and Anklav MLA Amit Chavda, who spent Rs 9,28,895 – 23% of the limit.

Among the three AAP MLAs, Umesh Makwana (Botad) declared an expense of Rs 9,64,289, Sudhir Vaghani (Garidhar) spent Rs 12,16,891 and Bhupendra Bhayani (Visavadar) spent Rs 12,39,588. Of this, Rs 2,23,900 was borne by the party.

The four BJP MLAs on the austerity list are Pankaj Desai of Nadiad (Rs 24,81,784), Limbayat MLA Sangita Patil (Rs 24,22,492), Karjan MLA Akshay Patel (Rs 23.97 lakh) and Godhra MLA C K Raulji (Rs 23.72 lakh).

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who won from Ghatlodia, spent Rs 18.74 lakh while Speaker Shankar Chaudhary from Tharad declared an expenditure of Rs 34.36 lakh.

Congress’ Vadgam (SC) MLA Jignesh Mevani spent Rs 25.5 lakh while first-time MLA Hardik Patel of the BJP spent Rs 27.12 lakh, with a third (Rs 7.14 lakh) borne by the party.

Of the 182 MLAs, only 23 declared election expenses less than 50% of the expense limit of Rs 40 lakh per candidate.

The party-wise election expenses show that the average spending for 156 MLAs from BJP is Rs 27.94 lakh (69.9% of the expense limit).

For 17 MLAs from Congress, the average expenditure is Rs 24.92 lakh (62.3%), for 5 MLAs from AAP, it is Rs.15.63 lakh (39.1%) and three Independent MLAs have spent an average of Rs 21.59 lakh (54%).

As per the analysis of the breakdown of expenditures incurred by the MLAs, only 0.18% was spent on virtual campaigns. Expenses incurred on the publishing of declarations regarding criminal cases amounted to 0.49% of the total candidate expenditures.

As many as 97 MLAs have declared that they spent funds on campaigning through electronic or print media while 85 did not spend any funds on campaigning through electronic or print media.

Regarding expenditures on campaign workers, 172 MLAs have submitted expenditures while 10 MLAs have declared that they have not spent any funds on campaign workers. As many as 145 MLAs — 80% of the total strength — spent funds on campaign materials. Only three MLAs did not spend on campaign vehicles.

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