New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Monday asked 200 Expenditure Observers, deployed exclusively to check black money and other illegal inducements during the forthcoming polls in five states, to keep a strict vigil on these instances and ensure a level playing field for all.
The full Commission, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat, on Monday briefed the Observers at a special session here.
The CEC asked the Observers, drawn from various Central services like the Indian Revenue Service and the Indian Audit and Account Service among others, to ensure that the guidelines framed by the poll panel are adhered to.
An EC spokesperson said that Zaidi emphasised on implementing the new instructions issued by the Commission in this regard.
"He stressed that for the sake of transparency, donations received by the candidates and political parties in excess of Rs 20,000 should not be in cash and also that if any payment is made to any individual or entity during the course of election exceeding Rs 20,000 should only be through account payee cheque," he said.
The CEC reiterated the requirement for candidates to open separate bank accounts at the time of nomination and to incur all election related expenditure through that specific account only.
Joti emphasised that the expenditure incurred on the candidate's booths for distribution of voter s slips on the day of poll should be accounted for in the account of the candidate.
Rawat expressed concern over the use of partially or fully owned newspapers and channels by the candidate or their sponsoring party and referred to the new instruction issued by the Commission that the expenditure on the same is to be included in the account of the candidate as per notified rate cards.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes, the policy-making body of the Income Tax department, has already asked the taxman to bolster their Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at major airports in these poll-bound states to check movement of cash and other suspect items.
Assembly elections in the politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur will be held
Counting of votes in all the states will be held on March 11.
Zaidi had said that the Commission will keep a watch on the use of black money, which is expected to come down due to demonetisation, and steps will be taken up to ensure that other illegal inducements are not used to influence voters.
The maximum limit for expenses for each candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand is Rs 28 lakh, while that in Goa and Manipur is Rs 20 lakh....