Parties can spend 10 per cent more than before on campaigning in each constituency for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the Centre has said, a decision that will immediately benefit candidates fighting the Assembly elections in Bihar.
Candidates can spend up to a maximum of ₹77 lakh on campaigning during Lok Sabha elections, the Union law ministry said in a notification. Till now, the limit was ₹70 lakh. Similarly, for Assembly elections, up to ₹30.8 lakh can be spent against the earlier ₹28 lakh limit, the notification said.
The limit in states such as Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and some Union Territories are lower due to the smaller constituencies and populations. The new limit for theses states and UTs is ₹59.4 lakh for Lok Sabha elections and ₹22 lakh for Assembly polls.
The Centre’s decision comes after the election commission had last month suggested that spending limit should be hiked as candidates would face difficulties during campaigning in view of the restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19.
In its guidelines, the commission has imposed conditions on holding rallies and on the number of people who can accompany a candidate during campaigning. The panel said a campaign squad should be small and only five cars, instead of 10 earlier, should be used for roadshows.
The restrictions on crowds would mean candidates will be able to address only small gatherings during campaigning and this would increase their cost, the commission said.
Candidates fighting the elections in Bihar will be able to make use of the extended limit. The Assembly elections in the state will be held in three phases — the first phase is on October 28, followed by the second on November 3 and the third of November 7. The results will be announced on November 10.
The decision will also benefit those contesting bypolls in 59 Assembly seats in 11 states and one Lok Sabha seat. The Lok Sabha byelection in Valmiki Nagar in Bihar will be held on November 7. Bypolls will also be held in three Assembly seats in Manipur on the same day. The byelections in the remaining 56 Assembly seats in 10 other states will take place on November 3.
The limit was last increased ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.