Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 17:
Biju Janata Dal, the ruling party in Odisha, has made the rather preposterous claim that its candidates spent no more than Rs 7 lakh each on their campaign.
In its poll expenses submitted to the Election Commissioner, the party claimed it spent just Rs 12.62 crores on campaigning of all its 168 candidates, 147 for the Vidhan Sabha and 21 for the Lok Sabha, during the simultaneous elections for pariliament and the state assembly in April last year.
Observers are taking the cliam with a bagful of salt. They say the party spent at least Rs 10 crores for each Vidhan Sabha constituency and the amount went as high as Rs 18-22 crores for key constituencies where competition was stiff.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself crisscrossed the state in a helicopter for campaigning and held over 250 poll meetings. Observers put the helicopter charges alone to be more than Rs 13 crores itself!
Unofficially, even BJD candidates admit that they were provided up to Rs 50 Lakh each at the time of nomination and received more as the poll process heated up.
It is a well known fact that cash flowed like wtare and black money was seized from government ambulances, police vans and even hearse vehicles during the election.
To put things in prespective, Trinamool Congress (TMC) spent Rs 23 crores on its 42 candidates fileded for the Lok Sabha polls (there was no assembly elections in that state), while the DMK in Tamil Nadu spent Rs 41 crores on its 39 candidates and the Akali Dal in Pujab spent Rs 22 crores on just 13 candiadtes.
Viewed in this conext, the BJD’s claim of having spent just Rs 12. 62 crores on as many as 168 candidates should go down as the joke of the year.