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Ahluwalia rally spending charge

Darjeeling, March 30: The Trinamul Congress has alleged that the BJP-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha combine spent over Rs 60 lakh for today’s meeting at Sukna in support of the candidate, S.S. Ahluwalia, and many people were given Rs 500 each to attend the rally.

Trinamul said a complaint would be lodged with the Election Commission on the matter.

“There were about 20,000 people at the meeting and to ferry them, at least 2,000 vehicles are needed. The average charge of hiring a vehicle from the hills to Sukna is Rs 3,000. This means, they (BJP-Morcha) have spent around Rs 60 lakh on the rally, without taking into account the expenditure for the pandal and public address system,” Binny Sharma, the spokesman for Trinamul (hills), said here.

According to norms, a candidate cannot spend more than Rs 70 lakh in the Lok Sabha elections.

Sharma said the Election Commission would be approached to keep a close watch on Ahluwalia’s expenditure.

He alleged the Morcha had distributed Rs 500 each to people to attend the meeting. “We had also sent some of our cadres to find out the reality. Many were paid Rs 500 to attend the meeting, while others were threatened that they would not be given jobs under the 100-days’ work scheme. Job cards (for 100 days work) are kept by Morcha leaders.”

Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang denied the charges and said the Election Commission had recorded the entire rally. He said flags had been planted on only those vehicles for which the Morcha we had sought permission.