December 14, 2016 5:26:21 am
CASH SEEMS to be no problem for candidates while they hold rallies or public meetings ahead of the Municipal Corporation elections. Even as some Independents are managing public meetings with few tables and chairs, there are some who make elaborate arrangements for the event.
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From a carpeted stage to live sound system, big sofas to double-layer tents, candidates of political parties are planning it carefully. The political parties maintain that they are paying only transportation cost (flight and car) of the senior leaders who come for campaigning while the bill of the event planned in a ward is footed by the respective candidates.
While star campaigners like Bhojpuri actor-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, BJP national spokesperson Shahnawz Hussain, Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur and AICC spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed turned up for campaigning, a minimum of Rs 80,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh is spent on each rally. Over 60 rallies have been addressed by the senior leaders till now.
The owner of a tent house that made arrangements at one such event said, “Since the sound effects are really clear, the live sound that is opted costs Rs 35,000 while the carpeted stage costs Rs 8,000. Around Rs 22,000 is incurred on chairs, tables, sofas and Rs 15,000 on gensets.”
Catering depends on the items which have to be offered to the crowd. While some offer tea and snacks on the spot, some prefer giving packets of eatables.
There are some who are managing public meetings within Rs 20,000. They opt for one single tent behind the stage without any shed and keep two tables on the stage with just chairs ahead.
However, candidates claim that they are not spending too much and shelling out just Rs 3,000-5,000 on such events. “It doesn’t require much money for these events and hardly Rs 5,000 was spent when an event was held in my ward,” said Vinod Aggarwal, the BJP candidate from ward 26.
Devender Singh Babla, Congress candidate from ward 18, who hosted Himachal Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur and Haryana Congress leader Ashok Tanwar for campaigning in his ward, said, “I just had two tables and few chairs when they came. It did not cost much.”
City BJP chief Sanjay Tandon said, “The party is paying flight charges of the leaders who come to Chandigarh to campaign for the candidates. The rest is up to the candidate what kind of arrangements he wants to make according to the expenditure limit.”
While Manoj Tiwari and Anurag Thakur addressed seven rallies each in a day for seven candidates, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar campaigned in four wards, including the ward of Mayor Arun Sood and BJP candidate from ward 3 Ravi Kant Sharma.
City Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra asserts that they have been arranging tables and chairs during rallies and the party isn’t paying any transportation charges of senior leaders.
“If AICC is sending them for official visit then they must be arranging for it but our local unit isn’t spending anything on their transportation. As far as public meetings are concerned, our candidates are hardly putting two tables and few chairs which doesn’t require much of an expenditure,” said Chhabra.
“If once in a while a rally is held where a star campaigner comes, proper arrangements have to be made but expenses on the event still don’t reach the expenditure limit. Even otherwise, we haven’t got any flags or publicity material printed this time. Due to demonetisation, one can’t afford to spend that much in this election,” said Mayor Arun Sood. see also page 3
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