The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Candidate, before you take a bite, check the rate chart

Unlike the usual excuse for not winning medals in the Olympics, fighting a national election is indeed an act of courage — as the Trinamul Congress is learning at its cost.

Veteran actor and Trinamul pick Biswajit Chatterjee has been shifted from the south Delhi seat after realisation dawned that Chittaranjan Park, the Bengali hub in the capital, fell in the New Delhi constituency. Although the shrinking Bengali population is a drop in the ocean in the New Delhi seat, Biswajit has now been offered that seat in the capital.

If the veteran actor does take the poll plunge, he — like many other first-timers — will need efficient as well as indefatigable aides to manage day-to-day affairs.

It may be fashionable to pillory politicians but contesting a Lok Sabha election is one of the most gruelling challenges in India. A contest demands enormous administrative skills, too.


The Election Commission of India has made it mandatory for candidates to track their daily expenses. The office of the district election officer in each district has come out with rate charts to ensure uniform accounting norms for all candidates in the area. The rates, admittedly, are far more realistic than the Planning Commission’s two-digit figure to pull through a day in India.

The election rate charts are exhaustive. The one in South 24-Parganas district covers 196 items, ranging from pins to bedsheet, on which a candidate may spend as part of the election-related expenditure.

The following are the rates of some — not all — items that all candidates or their managers are required to keep in mind every day till the voting is over. The figures refer only to the candidate and not the expenses on the core team, which also will be counted by the commission. The assumptions are that of this newspaper, not the poll panel.

The rates do not mean that the candidate cannot spend more for each item but the overall expenditure cannot exceed Rs 70 lakh in a seat in a big state and Rs 54 lakh in a seat in a small state. Rather, the rates have been fixed to ensure that the candidates do not under-report the actual price and spend more money.