Published On : Mon, Jan 23rd, 2017

SEC ‘cracks a joke’ as it fixes “rates” of different items for NMC poll candidates

The State Election Commission (SEC) seems to have cracked a joke as it released a rate chart of different items to assess the election expenditure for the forthcoming elections to Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). Whether the SEC is day-dreaming or feigning ignorance or insensitive to the present day realities while finalizing the rates is the moot question. A scan of the rate chart would leave the contesting candidates stunned!

For example, the SEC has put a limit of Rs 2000 for engaging Dhol or Dhamal (Band or Sandal) party per programme for a candidate. Is the poll panel mocking with the reality? In today’s situation, forget a Dhamal party, finding a single man beating the drums for any occasion is a herculean task. Similarly, the SEC fixed the rate for Qawwali programme or Magic Show as Rs 2000. The poll panel seems to possess a magic wand to curb poll expenses of contesting candidates.

The SEC has issued several instructions for monitoring expenditure during the NMC elections as a part of curbing the use of money power. Hence, in order to assess the election expenditure of contesting candidates, in respect of the various items, the rates have been finalized, sources said.

But the State Election Commission becoming a laughing stock would not be surprising if one glances the rate chart of different items that are part and parcel of an election. The rates have also been notified for the information of the general public, political parties and interested persons for assessing the election expenditure. The Election Expenditure Monitoring Cell will assess the expenditure based on the rates given.

According to the chart, the prevailing rate of a cup of tea is Rs 5, coffee Rs 10, snacks Rs 25 per person, non-veg lunch Rs 150, veg lunch Rs.72, Lassi Rs 25 etc. The rates of other snacks were also given. Here again, the SEC seems to have miscalculated some of the charges.

On the vehicle front, the rates quoted mismatch with the reality. For a minibus (18-seater) the candidates have been directed to pay only Rs 3500 per day or maximum 250 kms. The rate for the vehicle without fuel is Rs 2000. For AC cars such as Honda City or Skoda, the rate is Rs 4250 per day or maximum 250 kms. Similarly, there are different rates for different cars and four-wheelers that seem not possible in today’s position.

The election authority also stated the rates of labour, machinery and minor works such as erection of shamiana, wooden stage, pandal, hiring charges for providing barricade arrangements etc. It also notified hiring charges for sound system arrangements.
In sum, the rates and the SEC thinking are poles apart. In this “weird” scenario, it would not be surprising to find most of the candidates contesting the NMC elections under-reporting their expenses.

The chart of fixed rates: