An analysis of the election expenditures of the October Assembly polls has revealed a fact that, surely, leaves one wide-eyed with incredulity: nearly half of the state’s MLAs spent less than half of the maximum allowable amount for campaigning in the run-up to the polls. In fact, some MLAs claim they spent less than Rs 3 lakh.

The analysis was conducted by Maharashtra Election Watch (MEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms, an NGO, based on the election expenses filed by the state’s 288 MLAs. And the facts are certainly astounding, to say the least.

42% of the MLAs have spent less than half of the total allowed expenditure limit of Rs 28 lakh, which includes costs of public meetings and processions, campaigning through electronic and print media, expenditure on workers, vehicles, etc.

“Candidates have constantly claimed that the election expenditure limit set is very low. However, based on the election expense declarations, 120 MLAs (42%) have declared election expenses of less than 50% of the expense limit in their constituency,” said the report, which was released on Tuesday.

The highest amount spent was, surprisingly, by an independent candidate, Bachhu Kadu from Achalpur, who spent Rs 26.19 lakh. The lowest was from the city Byculla MLA Waris Yusuf Pathan, from All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, managed a win with a kitty of Rs 2.76 lakh only. The average expense for the 288 elected members is only about Rs 15.18 lakhs, which is 54% of the expense limit.

Party-wise expenses
The analysis throws up many interesting numbers which seem to posit that contesting polls usually seen as an expensive proposition is perhaps cheaper than going on a guided tour of Europe.

NCP, which was touted as the party of moneybags, lived up to expectations by emerging as top ranker in average spending, though it failed in retaining power. The party’s 41 MLAs spent an average of Rs 17.77 lakh (63% of the expense limit). The BJP, with 122 winners, registered an average of Rs 15.32 lakh (55% of the expense limit).

The Congress (42 MLAs) with Rs 15.25 lakh (54% of the expense limit) is third in the list, while the Shiv Sena (63 MLAs) with Rs 13.42 lakh (48% of the expense limit) stands last among the major parties in the state.